Gene expression studies in Multiple Sclerosis.
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Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a serious neurological disorder affecting young Caucasian individuals, usually with an age of onset at 18 to 40 years old. Females account for approximately 60% of MS cases and the manifestation and course of the disease is highly variable from patient to patient. The disorder is characterised by the development of plaques within the central nervous system (CNS). Many gene expression studies have been undertaken to look at the specific patterns of gene transcript levels in MS. Human tissues and experimental mice were used in these gene-profiling studies and a very valuable and interesting set of data has resulted from these various expression studies. In general, genes showing variable expression include mainly immunological and inflammatory genes, stress and antioxidant genes, as well as metabolic and central nervous system markers. Of particular interest are a number of genes localised to susceptible loci previously shown to be in linkage with MS. However due to the clinical complexity of the disease, the heterogeneity of the tissues used in expression studies, as well as the variable DNA chips/membranes used for the gene profiling, it is difficult to interpret the available information. Although this information is essential for the understanding of the pathogenesis of MS, it is difficult to decipher and define the gene pathways involved in the disorder. Experiments in gene expression profiling in MS have been numerous and lists of candidates are now available for analysis. Researchers have investigated gene expression in peripheral mononuclear white blood cells (PBMCs), in MS animal models (EAE) and post mortem MS brain tissues. This review will focus on the results of these studies.