Several genetic risk variants are identified for the common inflammatory bowel disease ulcerative colitis, in two studies published online in Nature Genetics. Some of these variants also predispose to Crohn's disease, a related chronic disorder of the intestine.
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease are similar, though distinct, inflammatory bowel disorders that affect 1 in 250 individuals of Northern European descent. Significant progress has been made in identifying genetic variants that point to susceptibility to Crohn's disease, but this has been less true of ulcerative colitis, and the common genetic underpinnings of the two disorders are not well understood.
Jack Satsangi and colleagues carried out a scan for variants affecting risk of colitis, and identified ECM1, which encodes a protein that is secreted by cells and activates a key immune regulator. These authors also show that five previously identified susceptibility genes for Crohn's disease are common to ulcerative colitis, while three are not.
In a separate study, Stefan Schreiber and colleagues investigated 50 previously reported susceptibility loci for Crohn's disease in more than 1,800 individuals with Crohn's disease and more than 1,100 individuals with ulcerative colitis. Several were identified as risk variants for both diseases, while three were specific to Crohn's disease and three specific to ulcerative colitis. Together these studies lay the groundwork for a more complete assessment of the genetic relationship between the two diseases.
Jack Satsangi (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Stefan Schreiber (University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany)
Abstracts available online:
(C) Nature Genetics press release.
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