To use the case-only gene-environment (G
E) interaction study design to estimate interaction between pregnancy before onset of MS symptoms and established genetic risk factors for MS among White adult females.
We studied 2,497 female MS cases from 4 cohorts in the United States, Sweden, and Norway with clinical, reproductive, and genetic data. Pregnancy exposure was defined in 2 ways: (1)
live birth pregnancy before onset of MS symptoms and (2) parity before onset of MS symptoms. We estimated interaction between pregnancy exposure and established genetic risk variants, including a weighted genetic risk score and both HLA and non-HLA variants, using logistic regression and proportional odds regression within each cohort. Within-cohort associations were combined using inverse variance meta-analyses with random effects. The case-only G x E independence assumption was tested in 7,067 individuals without MS.
Evidence for interaction between pregnancy exposure and established genetic risk variants, including the strongly associated HLA-DRB1*15:01 allele and a weighted genetic risk score, was not observed. Results from sensitivity analyses were consistent with observed results.
Our findings indicate that pregnancy before symptom onset does not modify the risk of MS in genetically susceptible White females.