Interleukin seven receptor MS gene influences theimmune response

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Jäger J, Schulze C, Rösner S, Martin R. IL7RA haplotype-associated alterations in cellular immune function and gene expression patterns inmultiple sclerosis. Genes Immun. 2013 Aug 29. doi: 10.1038/gene.2013.40. [Epub ahead of print]
Interleukin-7 receptor alpha (IL7RA) is among the top listed candidate genes influencing the risk to develop multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system. Soluble IL-7RA (sIL-7RA) protein and mRNA levels vary among the four common IL7RA haplotypes. Here we show and confirm that protective haplotype carriers have three times lower sIL-7RA serum levels than the other three haplotypes. High sIL-7RA concentrations significantly decrease IL-7-mediated STAT5 phosphorylation in CD4+ T cells. Transcriptome analysis of unstimulated and stimulated CD4+ T cells of MS patients carrying the different IL7RA haplotypes revealed complex and overlapping patterns in genes participating in cytokine signaling networks, apoptosis, cell cycle progression and cell differentiation. Our findings indicate that genetic variants of IL7RA result in haplotype-associated differential responsiveness to immunological stimuli that influence MS susceptibility not exclusively by varying levels of sIL-7RA.


Interleukin 7 is a white blood cell growth factor. The receptor for Interleukin 7 was one of the first MS non-transplantation antigen genes found  There are about 130 genes. The genetic variants associated with MS result in higher levels of IL-7, so it is perhaps available to stimulate white blood cells. But this is associated with  stimulation with other sets of cytokines and immunological molecules. How this relates to susceptibility is not yet clear but adds further weight to the belief that the immune response is part of the problem in MS.

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