In a family study of all patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Orkney, the number of inbred among patients, although high for Britain, is not higher than the number among controls, and the inbreeding coefficients appear to eliminate recessive involvement of rare genes from the aetiology. The kinship coefficients show that the ancestries of patients and controls are closely enmeshed, and eliminate from the aetiology involvement of recently introduced genes dominant or codominant in effect. Family histories show that single locus inheritance is unlikely unless penetrance is very low. Multifactorial genetic involvement is much more likely, and it is compatible with all recent findings; on this hypothesis heritability estimates, not altogether satisfactory because of the limited number of patients in the population, suggest that the genetic contribution to the aetiology of the disease in Orkney is only moderate.
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