Healthy Living

Study Alert: Connects Genes to the Development of Lupus

Study Alert: Connects Genes to the Development of Lupus

Lupus is a chronic disease where the immune system attacks the healthy and normal tissue. It can cause damage to multiple parts of the body if left untreated. It is common among women who are of “childbearing” age. Its symptoms may last for several months, but they may also last for several years.

While the exact cause of this disease is unknown, a study shows that genes may hold a key role in developing the disease.

What the study implicates

According to the study, there are 24 genomic regions contributing to an accelerating SLE risk pattern. Normally, the immune system can absorb the effect of these genes, but when the number of these “risky” genes becomes overwhelming, it may result in disorders such as SLE. It has also been said that the genes’ ancestral distribution may explain why people who belong in certain ethnicities have a higher risk of acquiring lupus. After all, some cluster of these risky genes is more common in certain ancestry.

The importance of this study

The study conducted by Northwestern Medicine, together with international colleagues, identified new genes that are linked to lupus after analyzing genetic samples from more than 27,000 people from different parts of the world. This study is important for because it provides an insight into why certain ethnicities, like Native Americans and African-Americans, have a higher rate of lupus as compared to others. Researchers are also hoping that the new discoveries presented in the study will lead to better tools for diagnosing and treating lupus.

Genetic research on lupus

Lupus has been a subject of genetic research already. In fact, in 2010, about 30 genes linked to lupus were identified by genetic researchers. For example, one genetic variant that is linked to this disease is TNFAIP3. This is a gene that is strongest in Europeans and Koreans with lupus, according to Montgomery. On the other hand, Criswell said that people of different continental ancestries are susceptible to different forms and severity of lupus.

Complement also has a vital role in the development of lupus. People who have a deficiency in homozygous complement have a high lupus frequency. It has been estimated that approximately 80 percent of people who have total C1q deficiency suffer from lupus or other syndromes that are similar to lupus.

Also, research shows that SLE tends to run in families. However, the pattern of how it is inherited is often unknown. It is possible for a person to inherit a certain gene that can decrease or increase their risk of SLE. In fact, it has been said that about 1 in 3 identical twins who have lupus also have a twin with lupus while among non-identical twins, it is one in 20. However, in most cases, people do not inherit the disease itself. In other words, not everyone who has that gene variation will develop lupus. 

Read on to learn more about the genetic risk that is associated with lupus.