Celiac disease and Crohn’s Disease have already been considered “sister diseases” (along with ulcerative colitis), the new research published in PLoS Genetics even stated,  “the two diseases can co-occur within families” (which I found interesting). Now the study found the two may be even more closely related.

According to the news release, researchers combed through genetic data from an estimated 10,000 people — some with Crohn’s, some with Celiac, some without either disease — and found four genes that may contribute to the risk of both diseases.  In fact,  one gene was previously known in celiac, but was just discovered in Crohn’s and a  fourth gene actually links celiac, Crohn’s and colitis.

What does this mean?  According to WebMD,

“The research may help to explain why people who have celiac disease appear to have a higher rate of Crohn’s disease than the general population. It may one day lead to new treatments that address the underlying inflammation involved in both conditions.” – WebMD

The genes are listed as IL18RAP, PTPN2, TAGAP, and PUS10.  Study co-author John Rioux, PhD. from the University of Montreal in Quebec told WebMD,

“The first three [genes] we can say are involved in T-lymphocyte function…They seem to have a role to play in how these cells respond to a given stimulus.”

In other words, those first three genes “appear to be involved in controlling how the immune system responds to perceived threats.”  That over-reaction can lead to the body attacking itself also known as auto immune response — which can lead to celiac disease, Type 1 Diabetes, Rheumatoid Arthritis and more.

The news release says much more research needs to be done to better understand these genes  and their connection to Crohn’s and Celiac.

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