Project Y: The search for clues explaining phenotype variability in MS

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Background: To study phenotypic variability in MS patients, well-defined unbiased cohort studies are necessary. The most common and probably most important confounding factor when studying disease phenotype in MS is age. Objective: To describe study design and subject characteristics of a unique birth cohort (Project Y). The overall aim of Project Y is to identify determinants associated with phenotypic variability in MS, eliminating the possibility of confounding by age. Methods: Project Y is a population-based cross-sectional study of all people with MS born in the Netherlands in 1966. Patients and healthy controls were subjected to comprehensive examinations: functional and static imaging, physical and cognitive measurements, and lifestyle factors early and later in life. In addition body fluids were collected and stored for future biomarker research. Results: 452 eligible MS patients were identified. Between December 2017 and January 2021, 367 MS patients and 125 healthy controls participated. The total number of identified cases results in a current prevalence of at least 189/100.000 for people born in the year 1966 in The Netherlands. Conclusion: Project Y is a unique cohort designed to identify factors associated with phenotypic variability in MS patients without the confounding effects of age. This first description of the Project Y cohort indicates that the prevalence of MS in the Netherlands might be higher than previously presumed. Various studies using Project Y data are ongoing and results will be published in upcoming years.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103337
JournalMultiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021

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