Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease characterized by complex genetics and multifaceted gene-environment interactions. Compared to whites, African Americans have a lower risk for developing MS, but African Americans with MS have a greater risk of disability. These differences between African Americans and whites may represent differences in genetic susceptibility and/or environmental factors. SNPs from 12 candidate genes have recently been identified and validated with MS risk in white populations. We performed a replication study using 918 cases and 656 unrelated controls to test whether these candidate genes are also associated with MS risk in African Americans. CD6, CLEC16a, EVI5, GPC5, and TYK2 contained SNPs that are associated with MS risk in the African American dataset. EVI5 showed the strongest association outside the MHC (rs10735781, OR = 1.233, 95 % CI = 1.06–1.43, P value = 0.006). In addition, RGS1 appears to affect age of onset whereas TNFRSF1A appears to be associated with disease progression. None of the tested variants showed results that were statistically in-consistent with the effects established in whites. The results are consistent with shared disease genetic mechanisms among individuals of European and African ancestry

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