Review article: genetic susceptibility and application of genetic testing in clinical management of inflammatory bowel disease

S Vermeire
Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics 2006, 24 Suppl 3: 2-10
The volume of research undertaken on the genetic susceptibility of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has been tremendous, and over 10 chromosomal regions have been identified by genome-wide scanning. Fine-mapping approaches and candidate gene studies have already led to the identification of several susceptibility genes, including CARD15 (NOD2), DLG5, novel organic cation transporter (OCTN) 1 and 2, and CARD4 (NOD1). The CARD15 gene is the most understood at present and explains around 20% of the genetic predisposition to Crohn's disease. Although the clinical implications of genetic testing are limited at present, genetic research has advanced our understanding of the clinical heterogeneity and the complex interactions between genetic and environmental risk factors in IBD. Genes also interfere with the metabolism of drugs and may influence the clinical response and drug-related toxicity. Ultimately, researchers and clinicians aim to personalize medicine based on a patient's genotype, although azathioprine (thiopurine methyltransferase polymorphisms) is the only drug to date where pharmacogenetics has shown clinical relevance in IBD. In the future, it is anticipated that genetic markers will be implemented in an integrated molecular diagnostic and prognostic approach to managing our patients.

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