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Study Highlights Ethnic Diversity of Lupus-Linked Genes

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 03 Aug 2017
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Image: Scientists from an international consortium have identified a large number of new genetic markers that predispose individuals to lupus (Photo courtesy of iStock).
Image: Scientists from an international consortium have identified a large number of new genetic markers that predispose individuals to lupus (Photo courtesy of iStock).
A large genotyping study has identified multiple regions of the genome linked to the autoimmune disease systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in individuals of European, African, and Hispanic Amerindian ancestry.

SLE is an autoimmune disease with marked gender and ethnic disparities. For example SLE strikes women nine times more frequently than men and its onset is most common during the childbearing years. Furthermore, African-American and Hispanic women are two to three times more likely to develop lupus and tend to have more severe cases than Caucasian women.

A recent study conducted by investigators at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center (Winston-Salem, NC, USA) and colleagues in Oklahoma, the United Kingdom, and at the biotechnology company Genentech Inc. (San Francisco, CA, USA) analyzed genetic data from 27,574 individuals of European, African American, and Hispanic ancestry using Immunochip genotyping technology that had been designed specifically for autoimmune diseases.

The investigators reported that they had identified 58 regions of the genome linked to SLE in Caucasians, nine in African Americans, and 16 in Hispanics. These regions appeared to be independent of association with HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen), and nearly 50% of these regions had multiple genetic variants that predisposed to SLE.

"This study is the largest multi-ethnic lupus genetics study to date and allowed us to identify many new genetic markers, some of which are specific to individual ethnic groups and others that are shared across ethnicities," said first author Dr. Carl Langefeld, professor of biostatistical sciences at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center. "With this information, we can begin to better understand the differences in the rates and severity of disease across ethnic groups. In addition, we observed that many of the genetic markers associated with lupus are shared across numerous autoimmune diseases, and those that are not shared may allow us to understand why a person develops lupus instead of another autoimmune disease. These results will help us identify the biological pathways that pharmaceutical companies may target, and ultimately, develop personalized medicine for the treatment of lupus."

The study was published in the July 17, 2017, online edition of the journal Nature Communications.

Related Links:
Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center

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