Thirteen new genetic variants associated with increased risk of coeliac disease are reported online this week in Nature Genetics. This study doubles the number of common genetic variants that have been found to be associated with coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is an inherited autoimmune condition in which the lining of the small intestine is damaged by dietary gluten and other proteins contained in wheat, barley and rye. The prevalence of coeliac disease is approximately 1% worldwide, and the only effective treatment is following a gluten-free diet.
David van Heel and colleagues scanned the genomes of 9,451 patients with coeliac disease and report 13 genetic regions that are associated with increased risk of the disease. Most of the associated genetic regions contain genes with known functions in the immune system. Eighteen of the 27 known genetic risk variants for coeliac disease are also associated with other immune-related diseases, including type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.