Genetic Variants Affecting Crohn’s Disease Severity Not Linked to Disease Risk

RESEARCHERS at the University of Cambridge have identified four genetic variants that affect the severity of Crohn’s disease but appear to have no relation to the risk of developing the condition.

The team examined the genomes of >2,700 individuals with varying severity of Crohn’s disease and found a series of genetic variations to be involved in prognosis. The team also found that these variations have not been shown to affect the risk of developing the disease.

Crohn’s disease is one of the two main forms of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD has been reported to have around 170 genetic variants which increase the risk of developing the condition but researchers found that none of these influence its severity. Prof Ken Smith, Head of the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK, stated that: “This shows us that the genetic architecture of disease outcome is very different to that of disease risk. In other words, the biological pathways driving disease progression may be very different to those that initiate the disease itself.”

The four variants identified by the team which affect prognosis were found in the FOX03gene, in the genetic region of IGFBP1, in the MHC region, and in the XACT gene. “This discovery has shown us a new way of looking at disease and opens up potential new treatment options, which could substantially ease the burden of Crohn’s disease,” Dr James Lee, Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK observes. “What is more, we have evidence that some of these prognosis genes will be shared with other diseases, and as such this approach could be used to improve treatment in a number of conditions.”

Jack Redden, Reporter

Keywords: Crohn’s Disease, FOX03, Genetic Variations, Genome, IGFBP1, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, MHC, XACT