Satellite Banner
Technology
Networks
Scientific Communities
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

Genetic Mystery of Behcet's Disease Unfolds Along the Ancient Silk Road

Published: Monday, January 07, 2013
Last Updated: Monday, January 07, 2013
Bookmark and Share
NIH researchers identify new gene variants associated with risk for complex inflammatory syndrome.

Researchers have identified four new regions on the human genome associated with Behcet's disease, a painful and potentially dangerous condition found predominantly in people with ancestors along the Silk Road. For nearly 2,000 years, traders used this 4,000-mile network linking the Far East with Europe to exchange goods, culture and, in the case of the Silk Road disease, genes. National Institutes of Health researchers and their Turkish and Japanese collaborators published their findings in the Jan. 6, 2013, advance online issue of Nature Genetics.

Named for the Turkish physician who described it in 1937, Behcet’s (pronounced BET’-chets) disease is triggered by complex genetic and environmental factors, and causes inflammation of blood vessels in various parts of the body. Common symptoms include painful mouth and genital sores, and eye inflammation that can lead to blindness. In some cases, it can be life-threatening, affecting blood vessels in the brain, lungs, and other vital organs. About 1 in 250 people in Turkey have Behcet's disease; others with the disease are found largely in regions along the Silk Road.

Genetic factors are thought to play a role in susceptibility to Behcet's disease, with the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) B-51 gene region of the genome, accounting for about 20 percent of genetic risk for the disease. Researchers have been aware of the HLA B-51 association for about 40 years. Two years ago, the research team identified gene associations at two other specific chromosome locations, or loci.

"The current study represents an important advance because it dramatically broadens the spectrum of genetic loci associated with Behcet's disease," said Dan Kastner, M.D., Ph.D., scientific director of the Intramural Research Program at the National Human Genome Research Institute and senior author of the study. "These newly discovered genetic associations provide a link between Behcet’s disease and other more common illnesses, and thereby suggest new therapies for Behcet’s disease. In addition, two of the newly discovered genes provide an intriguing link between genes and the microbes in our environment."

Researchers conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) that enrolled 1,209 Turkish people affected by Behcet's disease and 1,278 unaffected Turkish people — all residents of the country. They looked at many points on the human genome called single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), with each SNP representing a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. Researchers then compared SNP differences between people with and without disease.

From nearly 800,000 SNPs, researchers detected and mapped a small number that are found in those who have Behcet’s disease at a significantly higher rate than in those without the disease, suggesting that the variant or another one nearby contributes to the disease.

"Each of the genetic factors may contribute a little to the overall risk of disease," said Elaine F. Remmers, Ph.D., staff scientist in NHGRI’s Inflammatory Disease Section and study co-author. "We are also identifying them in pathways that are important in inflammatory disease development."

She noted that not all of the 800,000 gene variants analyzed were directly genotyped. Genotyping involves examining a person's DNA at a site where a variation is commonly known to occur. Instead, the team used the strategy of imputing, or surmising, that there were genotypes worth investigating near known variants.

"That worked very well for us," Dr. Remmers said. "We found that our predicted genotypes were pretty good and that the associations we found were quite similar in both the predicted and the experimentally confirmed genotypes."

Each of the four newly identified gene regions is already known to play a role in immune regulation. The genetic associations have helped classify Behcet’s disease with more common inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis, inflammatory bowel disease and a form of spinal arthritis called ankylosing spondylitis.

Among the newly identified regions, researchers found:

•    An important association between Behcet’s disease and a gene called ERAP1. ERAP1 codes for a molecule that processes microbial proteins in white blood cells. Variants of this protein can lead to more or less efficient processing of microbial proteins before they are loaded onto HLA molecules for presentation to the immune system. The variants of ERAP1 identified in this study increase the risk of Behcet's disease, but only in those individuals with one specific HLA type, HLA-B51, which has previously been associated with Behcet’s disease. Dr. Kastner speculates that the ERAP1 variant associated with Behcet’s disease processes microbial proteins in such a way that they can be loaded onto the HLA-B51 molecule to trigger an abnormal immune response. The very same variant of ERAP1 that is associated with Behcet's disease is protective for ankylosing spondylitis and psoriasis, but only in people with the HLA types associated with those diseases.
•    A significant association of Behcet's disease with variants near the CCR1 gene. Proteins coded by this gene help infection-fighting blood cells migrate to sites of invading microorganisms. When this function is defective, the microorganisms can trigger a persistent inflammatory response.
•    An association of the disease with variants in the KLRC4 gene. The function of the receptor protein coded by this gene is not well understood, but the researchers suggest that it may be important to investigate further because it is located within the genomic region with the strongest evidence for linkage to a disease gene in a study of Turkish family health histories in which members sometimes have a rare familial form of Behcet’s disease.
•    An association with the STAT4 gene, in which different variants in the same vicinity of the genome increase risk for autoimmune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus.

"We are incredibly excited about these latest findings," Dr. Kastner said. "Combined with our studies two years ago, the current genetic data make a strong case for a causal connection between Behcet’s disease and disorders such as ankylosing spondylitis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. This raises real hope that some of the treatments that have been found effective in these other illnesses will have some utility in Behcet’s disease, thereby helping to alleviate suffering and prevent mortality."


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 4,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More Than 5,300+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.

Related Content

Exploring the Genome of the River Blindness Parasite
Researchers have decoded the genome of the parasite that causes the skin and eye infection known as river blindness.
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Gene-Editing Improves Vision in Blind Rats
Scientists developed a targeted gene-replacement technique that can modify genes in both dividing and non-dividing cells in living animals.
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Uncovering Cerebral Malaria’s Deadly Agents
NIH scientists film inside mouse brains to uncover biology behind the disease.
Wednesday, December 07, 2016
Study to Assess Shorter-Duration Antibiotics in Children
Physicians plan a clinical trial to evaluate whether short course anti-biotics are effective at treating CAP in children.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
First New HIV Vaccine Study for Seven Years Begins
South Africa hosts historic clinical trial of experimental HIV vaccine aiming to safely prevent HIV infection.
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Antibody Protects Mice from Zika Infection
Researchers develop human-derived antibody protected pregnant mice and their developing fetuses from Zika infection.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Food Additives Promote Inflammation, Colon Cancer
Dietary emulsifiers promoted colon cancer in a mouse model by altering gut microbes and increasing gut inflammation.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Protein-Folding Gene Helps Heal Wounds
Researchers identified a protein that dramatically accelerates wound healing in animal models.
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
More Immunotherapy Options Approved for Lung Cancer
The FDA has approved a new immunotherapy drug for certain patients with non-small cell lung cancer.
Monday, November 21, 2016
Big Data for Infectious Disease Surveillance
NIH-led effort examines use of big data from health records and other digital sources for uses in infectious disease surveillance.
Tuesday, November 15, 2016
Potential Therapies Against Drug-Resistant Bacteria Identified
Researchers create new identification method for drug and drug combinations that may combat resistant infections.
Thursday, November 10, 2016
Testing Zika Vaccine in Humans Begins
The first of five planned clinical trials to test ZPIV vaccine in humans has begun.
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Genetic Markers Predict Malaria Treatment Failure
By comparing 297 parasite genomes to a reference malaria parasite genome, researchers have identified two genetic markers that are strongly associated with the parasites’ ability to resist piperaquine.
Monday, November 07, 2016
Cannabinoid Receptor Structure Revealed
Scientists provided a detailed view of the primary molecule through which cannabinoids exert their effects on the brain. The findings might help guide the design of more targeted medicines with fewer side effects.
Wednesday, November 02, 2016
NIH Researchers Unveil New Wound-Healing Role for Protein-Folding Gene in Mice
The study found that topical treatment of an Hsp60-containing gel dramatically accelerates wound closure in a diabetic mouse model.
Friday, October 28, 2016
Scientific News
Big Genetics in BC: The American Society for Human Genetics 2016 Meeting
Themes at this year's meeting ranged from the verification, validation, and sharing of data, to the translation of laboratory findings into actionable clinical results.
Stem Cells in Drug Discovery
Potential Source of Unlimited Human Test Cells, but Roadblocks Remain.
Automated Low Volume Dispensing Trends
Gain a better understanding of the current and future market requirements for fully automated LVD systems.
Personality Traits, Psychiatric Disorders Linked to Specific Genomic Locations
Researchers have unearthed genetic correlations between personality traits and psychiatric disorders.
Forensic 3D Documentation of Skin Injuries
In this study, the validity of using photogrammetry for documenting injuries in a pathological context was demonstrated.
3-D Printed Dog’s Nose Improves Vapor Detection
By mimicking how dogs get their whiffs, a team of government and university researchers have demonstrated that “active sniffing” can improve by more than 10 times the performance of current technologies that rely on continuous suction to detect trace amounts of explosives and other contraband.
New Markers for Forensic Body-fluid Identification
University of Bonn researchers have successfully identified specific Micro-RNA signatures to help forensically identify body fluids.
Genetics Control Regenerative Properties Of Stem Cells
Researchers define how genetic factors control regenerative properties of blood-forming stem cells.
Major Neuroscience Initiative Launched
Tianqiao and Chrissy Chen Institute invest $115 million to further expand neuroscience research, while Caltech construct $200 million biosciences complex.
Making It Personal
Cancer vaccine linked to increased immune response against leukemia cells.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
Skyscraper Banner

SELECTBIO Market Reports
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
4,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
5,300+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!