Saturday, October 22, 2016
In the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of genetic risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease in African Americans, a research team has identified two regions of the genome (loci) associated with ulcerative colitis only in people of African descent
The study identified single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) - at ZNF649 and at LSAMP - with genome-wide significance in ulcerative colitis. These SNPs are very specific to sub-Saharan Africans and are not found in any other populations - making these findings unique and novel. This is the first time African- specific loci are known to contribute to inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), and these loci will be added to the already known 200+ loci in IBD to further expand the IBD genetic architecture. The team also found evidence of overlapping genome-wide associations for ulcerative colitis and IBD in African- Americans and other populations. The detection of variants associated with IBD risk in only people of African descent demonstrates the importance of studying the genetics of IBD and other complex diseases in populations beyond those of European ancestry.