Genes encoding for prolactin (PRL) and its receptor (PRLR) are possible candidates for multiple sclerosis (MS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility. In fact: (1) a prolactin secretion dysfunction has been described in several autoimmune diseases including SLE and MS and their animal models; (2) both PRL and PRLR are structurally related to members of the cytokine/hematopoietin family and have a role in the regulation of the immune response; and (3) both PRL and PRLR genes map in genomic regions that showed linkage with autoimmunity. Prolactin maps on chromosome 6p, about 11-kb telomeric to HLA-DRB1 and PRLR in 5p12-13, which revealed evidence of linkage with MS in different populations. To evaluate a possible role of these two genes in SLE and MS we performed an association study of 19 PRL and PRLR single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). These were directly searched by DHPLC in a panel of SLE and MS patients and selected from databases and the literature. The SNP allele frequencies were determined on patient and control DNA pools by primer-extension genotyping and HPLC analysis. Moreover a panel of HLA typed SLE and control individuals were individually, genotyped for the PRL G-1149T polymorphism previously described to be associated with SLE. No statistically significant difference in the allele distribution was observed for any of the tested variations.
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