Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Genes that cause inflammatory bowel disease

Sufferers of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) may get a reprieve thanks to EU scientists who identified genes that increase a person's risk for developing the disease.
Genes that cause inflammatory bowel disease
IBD is a lifetime condition that causes inflammation of the gut. The two major types of IBD are ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease, both of which have heritable genetic causes. While scientists have identified some IBD-associated genes that could be targets for new treatments, these account for only 25 % of inherited IBD risk factors.

The EU-funded TRANS_CEDAR (Identifying inflammatory bowel disease causative genes through trans-eQTLs mapping within GWAS loci) project identified genes that may make people susceptible to developing IBD.

Researchers analysed genomes from nine tissue types collected from 350 healthy Europeans to find variations in genes thought to cause IBD. They then used statistical tests to determine whether certain gene variants were more heavily associated with IBD than others.

They found a high correlation between IBD and immune system genes responsible for protecting cells from pathogens like bacteria, and four other genes. The immunity genes, known collectively as the major histocompatibility complex, strongly influence how susceptible people are to ulcerative colitis.

One of the other genes, acyloxyacyl hydrolase (AOAH), helps to inactivate toxins produced by pathogenic bacteria. If AOAH does not work properly, the immune response to bacterial toxins may inflame the gut, potentially linking this gene to ulcerative colitis.

Having identified IBD-associated genes from different tissues, researchers determined how variations in the genes affected their function. These results could help to unravel the molecular mechanisms that result in ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease.

TRANS_CEDAR's data from healthy individuals may also be used to study the genetic basis of other diseases, particularly immune-mediated disorders. Candidate genes may be used to diagnose disorders like IBD, and could become targets for therapy.

Related information


Inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, IBD-associated genes, TRANS_CEDAR
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