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Pregnancy reduces the frequency of relapses in Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and parity also has a beneficial long term effect on disease outcome. We aimed to uncover the biological mechanisms underlying the beneficial long-term effects of parity in MS. Genome-wide gene expression revealed 574 genes associated with parity; 38.3% showed significant DNA methylation changes (enrichment p = 0.029). These genes overlapped with previous MS genes in humans and a rat MS model and were overrepresented within axon guidance (P = 1.6e-05), developmental biology (P = 0.0094) and cell-cell communication (P = 0.019) pathways. This gene regulation could provide a basis for a protective effect of parity on the long-term outcome of MS.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of neuroimmunology

Publication Date





38 - 49


School of Psychology and Counselling, Faculty of Health, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Kelvin Grove, Queensland, Australia; Center for Neurostatistics and Statistical Genomics, Institute for Molecular Bioscience, The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.


Animals, Humans, Rats, Multiple Sclerosis, Pregnancy Complications, Parity, DNA Methylation, Pregnancy, Adult, Female, Genome-Wide Association Study