JUL 04, 2018 2:18 PM PDT

How Factors Combine to Amplify the Risk of MS

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch

Researchers have linked an increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS) to exposure to paints and solvents in people who carry small variations in some genes that also make them susceptible to MS, compared with people that don’t have those genetic variants. Reporting in the journal Neurology, the work showed that the exposure increased the risk of MS by fifty percent. That made those individuals with the risk variants and experience with paints or solvents seven times more likely to get the disease as people who did not carry those variants and had not been around paints.

The researchers also found another factor. When people had been exposed to solvents or paints, carried the MS risk variants and were also smokers, they became thirty times more likely to get MS compared to those without those characteristics.

"These are significant interactions where the factors have a much greater effect in combination than they do on their own," said study author Anna Hedström, MD, Ph.D., of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden. "More research is needed to understand how these factors interact to create this risk. It's possible that exposure to solvents and smoking may both involve lung inflammation and irritation that leads to an immune reaction in the lungs."

The study involved  2,042 people who had recently gotten MS diagnoses in Sweden, as well as 2,947 people that were matched to the participants for sex and age. Blood samples were taken, and the researchers looked for two variants in human leukocyte antigen genes. One of those variants increases a person’s risk for developing MS, while the other one reduces that risk. One caveat of the study - the scientists relied on the participant’s recollection about whether or not they had been around organic solvents, paint materials or varnish, and if they smoked or not.
 
Of those individuals that had no MS risk variants, had not been around solvents and did not smoke, 139 people had MS and 525 did not. Of the people that carried the MS risk variants, had been exposed to paints or solvents, but did not smoke, 34 people had MS while 19 did not. In the group of smokers that also carried genetic risk variants, and were exposed to solvents, 40 individuals had MS and five people did not. While the group sizes got smaller, the proportion of people with the disease rose sharply. The combined factors of solvents, smoking and risk variants were calculated to increase the risk of getting MS by a whopping 60 percent.

"How this cocktail of MS genes, organic solvents and smoking contributes so significantly to MS risk warrants investigation," commented Gabriele C. DeLuca, MD, DPhil, of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and a member of the American Academy of Neurology. "In the meantime, avoiding cigarette smoke and unnecessary exposure to organic solvents, particularly in combination with each other, would seem reasonable lifestyle changes people can take to reduce the risk of MS, especially in people with a family history of the disease."


Sources: Science Daily via American Academy of Neurology, Neurology

About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
MAR 05, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 05, 2020
Researchers Learn How Gut Microbes Can Promote Heart Disease
The microbes in our gastrointestinal tract, collectively known as the gut microbiome, have a powerful impact on our heal ...
MAR 18, 2020
Immunology
MAR 18, 2020
Immune cells can ease chronic pain
In the words of C.S. Lewis, “Pain insists upon being attended to.” This is especially true for patients suff ...
MAR 22, 2020
Microbiology
MAR 22, 2020
The Benefits of Being a Loner
Outliers exist everywhere in nature, and it seems they serve an important purpose.
MAY 11, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 11, 2020
3D Cell Culture Model Suggests Herpes Can Cause Alzheimer's
Alzheimer's is a common form of dementia that affects as many as 5.5 million Americans and the incidence is increasing a ...
MAY 18, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 18, 2020
Just One Fatty Meal Can Impair Focus
Many tasty and convenient foods are high in fat, and new research has suggested that just one fatty meal may hinder our ...
MAY 22, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
MAY 22, 2020
Some Coral Turn Neon When Stressed
Corals are immobile animals, and coral reefs are considered to be the most diverse ecosystems in the sea.
Loading Comments...