A new study finds a wide range of epigenetic changes—alterations in DNA across the genome that may be related to key environmental exposures—in children with Crohn's disease (CD), according to a report published recently in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases.
The study provides “compelling evidence” of alterations of DNA in several regions of the genome in children with CD, according to Jack Satsangi, PhD, of the University of Edinburgh and colleagues. In addition to providing new insights into how genes and the environment interact, the results may have early implications for clinical management of CD.
The researchers performed a genome-wide study in children with newly diagnosed CD, before any treatment, to look for possible epigenetic changes that may affect gene behavior. The results showed strong evidence of such changes at 65 different sites across the genome. Nineteen sites showed clustering of epigenetic changes, pointing at genetic pathways that might be relevant to CD development. Similar patterns were present in a separate group of children who had been treated for CD, as well as in a group of treated adults.
The study highlighted “highly significant” changes in two specific gene locations (loci), which include genes responsible for immune and cellular functions that could contribute to the development of CD. Two probes for these loci were highly accurate in predicting which children would have CD, providing a potentially useful biomarker for use as a diagnostic test.
One specific gene location seemed particularly important, as it has been implicated in a number of different cancers, including colorectal cancer. The study also identified a number of other loci that might play a role in the development of CD, warranting further study. Read the study abstract.Read more