Research Highlights

More genetic regions linked to Behçet's disease

Published online 3 August 2010

Mohammed Yahia

Although the causes of Behçet's disease remain uncertain, it is more common in the Middle East and Asia, and peaks at around 4 cases per 1,000 people in Turkey. The disease, characterized by repeated immune attacks on the walls of blood vessels, can lead to oral, genital and skin lesions.

An international group of researchers, including one from the University Hospital in Damascus, Syria, performed a genome-wide association study of 1, 215 patients from Turkey, followed by a meta-analysis of 2,430 patients from the Middle East, Europe and Asia. They reported their findings in Nature Genetics1.

They confirm previous reports that the HLA-B *51 immune gene, is associated with Behçet's disease. In addition, they identified that variations in the gene IL10 and certain genes in the IL23R-IL12RB2 region are also associated with the disease. These genes encode interleukins, which are a group of proteins secreted by immune cells that regulate the immune response. These variations may make the body more prone to inflammatory attacks, leaving a person more susceptible to Behçet's disease.

Several other variants of candidate genes in the IL23R-IL12RB2 locus were studied, but none of them proved to have a clear association with Behçet's disease. The authors suggest that six genes tested may be significant, but a much larger study population is needed to determine if these genes truly increase susceptibility to the disease.


  1. Remmers, E et al. Genome-wide association study identifies variants in the MHC class I, IL10, and IL23R-IL12RB2 regions associated with Behçet's disease. Nature Genetics. 42, 698-702 (2010)  | Article | PubMed |