Differential effect of genetic burden on disease phenotypes in Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis: analysis of a North American cohort


OBJECTIVES: Crohn’s disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are chronic immunologically mediated diseases with a progressive relapsing remitting course. There is considerable heterogeneity in disease course and accurate prediction of natural history has been challenging. The phenotypic implication of increasing genetic predisposition to CD or UC is unknown. METHODS: The data source for our study was a prospective cohort of CD and UC patients recruited from a tertiary referral center. All patients underwent genotyping on the Illumina Immunochip. A genetic risk score (GRS) incorporating strength of association (log odds ratio) and allele dose for each of the 163 inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) risk loci was calculated and phenotypic associations examined across GRS quartiles. RESULTS: Our study cohort included 1,105 patients (697 CD, 408 UC). Increasing genetic burden was associated with earlier age of diagnosis of CD (Ptrend=0.008). Patients in the highest GRS quartile were likely to develop disease 5 years earlier than those in the lowest quartile. Increasing genetic burden was also associated with ileal involvement in CD (Ptrend textless0.0001). The effect of genetic burden was independent of the NOD2 locus and was stronger among those with no NOD2 variants, and in never smokers. UC patients with an involved first-degree relative had a higher genetic burden, but GRS was not associated with disease phenotype in UC. CONCLUSIONS: Increasing genetic burden is associated with early age of diagnosis in CD, but not UC. The expanded panel of IBD risk loci explains only a fraction of variance of disease phenotype, suggesting limited clinical utility of genetics in predicting natural history.

The American Journal of Gastroenterology