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Genome Scan Finds Inflammatory Bowel Disease Gene

Receptor for pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-23 appears to play a role in Crohn's disease

THURSDAY, Oct. 26 (HealthDay News) -- A gene encoding part of the receptor for the pro-inflammatory cytokine interleukin-23 has been linked to inflammatory bowel disease in a genome-wide association study published online Oct. 26 in Science. The "highly significant" link suggests that the cytokine may be a promising therapeutic target, according to the authors.

Judy H. Cho., M.D., of Yale University in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues conducted a genome-wide scan of 308,332 autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms in 567 non-Jewish patients with ileal Crohn's disease and 571 non-Jewish controls.

The researchers found that the IL-23R gene on chromosome 1p31, which encodes part of the receptor for interleukin-23, was significantly associated with the disease. This was confirmed by testing an affected and unaffected Jewish population as well as families with inflammatory bowel disease. The team found that several non-coding variants of the gene were independently associated with the disease. And they found a variant (Arg381Gln) that is uncommon in the general population that protected against Crohn's disease.

"These results and previous studies on the pro-inflammatory role of interleukin-23 prioritize this signaling pathway as a therapeutic target in inflammatory bowel disease," Cho and colleagues conclude.

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