Reworking GWAS data to understand the role of nongenetic factors in MS etiopathogenesis

R. Mechelli, R. Umeton, G. Manfrè, S. Romano, M.C. Buscarinu, V. Rinaldi, G. Bellucci, R. Bigi, M. Ferraldeschi, M. Salvetti, G. Ristori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Genome-wide association studies have identified more than 200 multiple sclerosis (MS)-associated loci across the human genome over the last decade, suggesting complexity in the disease etiology. This complexity poses at least two challenges: The definition of an etiological model including the impact of nongenetic factors, and the clinical translation of genomic data that may be drivers for new druggable targets. We reviewed studies dealing with single genes of interest, to understand how MS-associated single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) variants affect the expression and the function of those genes. We then surveyed studies on the bioinformatic reworking of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) data, with aggregate analyses of many GWAS loci, each contributing with a small effect to the overall disease predisposition. These investigations uncovered new information, especially when combined with nongenetic factors having possible roles in the disease etiology. In this context, the interactome approach, defined as “modules of genes whose products are known to physically interact with environmental or human factors with plausible relevance for MS pathogenesis”, will be reported in detail. For a future perspective, a polygenic risk score, defined as a cumulative risk derived from aggregating the contributions of many DNA variants associated with a complex trait, may be integrated with data on environmental factors affecting the disease risk or protection.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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