Gene expression and genotyping studies implicate the interleukin 7 receptor in the pathogenesis of primary progressive multiple sclerosis

D. R. Booth, A. T. Arthur, S. M. Teutsch, C. Bye, J. Rubio, P. J. Armati, J. D. Pollard, R. N.S. Heard, G. J. Stewart, Justin Rubio, Trevor Kilpatrick, Helmut Butzkueven, Niall Tubridy, Mark Mariott, Caron Chapman, John Carey, Jo Baker, Laura Johnson, Rachel Tan, Simon FooteStewart Huxtable, Melanie Bahlo, Jim Stankovich, Terry Speed

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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an enigmatic disease of the central nervous system resulting in sclerotic plaques with the pathological hallmarks of demyelination and axonal damage, which can be directly or indirectly orchestrated by cells from the peripheral circulation. The majority of patients with MS follow a relapsing-remitting course in the early stages of the disease (RRMS) but most ultimately enter a secondary progressive phase (SPMS). About 10% of patients follow a primary progressive course from the onset (PPMS). We measured gene expression in whole blood of people with and without chronic progressive MS (CPMS), PPMS and SPMS, to discover genes which may be differentially expressed in peripheral blood in active disease, and so identify pathologically significant genes and pathways; and we investigated genetic differences in the promoters of dysregulated genes encoded in genomic regions associated with MS. If SPMS and PPMS were independently compared to the controls, there was little overlap in the set of most dysregulated genes. Ribosomal protein genes, whose expression is usually associated with cell proliferation and activation, were dramatically over-represented in the set of most down-regulated genes in PPMS compared to SPMS (P<10 -4 , χ 2 ). The T cell proliferation gene IL7R (CD127) was also underexpressed in PPMS, but was up-regulated in SPMS compared to the controls. One interleukin 7 receptor (IL7R) promoter single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), -504 C, was undertransmitted in PPMS trios (P=0.05, TDT), and carriers of this allele were under-represented in PPMS cases from two independent patient cohorts (combined P=0.006, FE). The four known IL7R promoter haplotypes were shown to have similar expression levels in healthy controls, but not in CPMS (P<0.01, t test). These data support the hypothesis that PPMS has significant pathogenetic differences from SPMS, and that IL7R may be a useful therapeutic target in PPMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)822-830
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Molecular Medicine
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005


  • CD127
  • Gene expression
  • Genetics
  • Interleukin 7
  • Multiple sclerosis

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