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Celiac and Crohn's Disease May Share Genetic Risk Factors

THURSDAY, Jan. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Celiac disease and Crohn's disease share several genetic risk factors, a new study finds.

Celiac disease, which makes it hard to absorb nutrients properly, is an inherited autoimmune disease in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by gluten and other protein found in wheat and some other grains. Crohn's disease is a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

An international team of researchers conducted a meta-analysis of genome-wide data for the conditions, both considered inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. The causes of the diseases are only partly understood, although it is known that genetic and environmental factors are involved.

Previous research has shown that people with celiac disease have an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease, which suggested that the two conditions would share genetic risk factors.

The scientists in this study pinpointed two new shared genetic risk loci -- that is, specific locations of genes or DNA sequence on a chromosome. They also found two shared risk loci that had previously been independently identified for each disease.

The study was published Jan. 27 in the journal PLoS Genetics.

Further investigation is needed to understand how these four genetic risk factors influence both celiac and Crohn's disease, the researchers said in a news release from the publisher.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about inflammatory bowel disease.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: PLoS Genetics, news release, Jan. 27, 2011

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