What does HLA-DQ2/DQ8 mean to you? Maybe not much. For many people with celiac it is the likely reason, or the gene, that has contributed to them having celiac disease. But new research published in The Times of Malta suggests there may be more genes out there associated with celiac disease.
A small study out of Malta where only 600 people have celiac (with a population of 403,000 that works out to be a tenth of a percent of the population) shows that there appears to be a variant of another gene that’s playing a role in celiac. Introducing: CD59.
Researchers examined the DNA of each person with celiac disease, “If you have a grandmother, a mother and a son who all suffer from a particular disease, we [looked] for the part of DNA that is common in all three,” genetics specialist Christian Scerri who headed up the research explained.
“The researchers had the backing of previous international studies that had already determined that only people with a certain type of the molecule human leukocyte antigen, called HLA-DQ2/DQ8, were pre-disposed to celiac disease. Although on its own this molecule – found in about 30 per cent of the global population – does not cause gluten intolerance, when combined with a number of genes it leads to celiac disease.”
The other interesting note:
“The study also showed that those people who had HLA-DQ2/DQ8 or CD59 alone did not suffer from celiac disease, giving a clear indication that the combination of the two led to gluten intolerance,” TheTimesofMalta.com
The CD59 gene variant was also rare – only one family in Malta had it. Which begs the question are there other genes that are making a magical cocktail inside our bodies that leads to celiac disease? Researchers are asking for further investigation into how particular genes lead to certain medical conditions.