Genetic association studies have been of great value in the past by contributing to the understanding of pathophysiological mechanisms of chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Many genetic risk factors have been identified which confer susceptibility for one or several (autoimmune) disease(s). Using a candidate-gene approach, the first genetic risk factors and polymorphisms of vasculitides have been identified. Due to the rarity of autoimmune vasculitides often only small sample numbers have been generated and analysed, leading to inconsistent results. Furthermore, differences in ethnic background may complicate analysis. Only few of the detected risk factors have been reliably replicated in larger cohorts, such as the association of the PTPN22*620W allele with WG and MPA, the deficiency allele Pi*Z o.f. the alpha1 antitrypsin gene and the HLA-DPB*04041 allele with WG and the HLA-DRB3/DRB4 with CSS. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) offer the advantage of screening the whole genome for risk factors rather than relying on disease models postulated by the investigator; however, they require even larger sample sizes. Initial results from GWA studies are available for Behçet's disease and Kawasaki syndrome, which identified new genetic associations but require replication, especially since some of the identified risk factors could not be linked to pathophysiological pathways to date.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Infection and Inflammation Research (ZIEL)