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Update on the genetics of inflammatory bowel disease.

There is a general consensus that interplay of genetic and environmental factors leads to an overactive mucosal immune response, which mediates the tissue damage in inflammatory bowel disease. Ethnic aggregation of inflammatory bowel disease (particularly, increased incidence and prevalence in the Ashkenazim), familial aggregation of inflammatory bowel disease, and greater concordance for inflammatory bowel disease in monozygotic twins than dizygotic twins are 3 lines of evidence for a central role of genetic factors in the pathogenesis. The genetics of inflammatory bowel disease cannot be explained by simple Mendelian genetics; it is characterized by incomplete penetrance, multiple susceptibility loci and genetic heterogeneity. Unraveling the complex genetics of inflammatory bowel disease is a daunting challenge, but the perseverance of inflammatory bowel disease gene hunters has produced commendable results in recent years. Since 1996, the field of inflammatory bowel disease genetics has progressed from publication of the first systematic genome searches for inflammatory bowel disease susceptibility loci to the identification of Crohn disease-associated genetic variants in CARD15/NOD2. Strategies for finding additional inflammatory bowel disease genes include taking advantage of the greater resolution and power of linkage disequilibrium mapping, mapping by admixture disequilibrium in African-American and Hispanic-American populations, stratifying genetic analyses by genotypes at known inflammatory bowel disease loci, and refining inflammatory bowel disease phenotypes to reduce genetic heterogeneity and simplify the search for additional inflammatory bowel disease genes.

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