Tuesday, July 03, 2007

MS antibody higher in blacks

Published: July 2, 2007 at 7:56 PM

ST. LOUIS, July 2 (UPI) -- Blacks with multiple sclerosis have higher levels of an antibody called IgG in their spinal fluid than whites with the disease, say U.S. researchers.

One of the puzzles in MS is why blacks get the disease less often than any other ethnic group but suffer more serious symptoms when they develop the disease.

Researcher John Rinker at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis analyzed spinal fluid samples from 66 black patients with MS and 132 whites with the disease, and found that the levels in black patients were 29 percent higher.

IgG is used as a marker for MS, and high IgG levels have been linked to more aggressive disease in the general patient population.

In this study, disease severity was defined as time from diagnosis to when the patient first needed assistance walking. Black patients needed help walking an average of nine years after diagnosis versus 17 years for whites, but on a case-by-case basis, higher IgG levels did not predict this milestone.

"It may be that we haven't yet focused on the right disease characteristic in our search for factors that correlate with spinal inflammation," Rinker said.

The study appears in the July 3 issue of the journal Neurology.

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