Background and Aims: Crohn's disease [CD] is a chronic inflammatory disease with unpredictable behaviour. More than half of CD patients eventually develop complications such as stenosis, for which they then require endoscopic dilatation or surgery, as no anti-fibrotic drugs are currently available. We aim to identify disease-modifying genes associated with fibrostenotic CD.
Methods: We performed a within-case analysis comparing 'extreme phenotypes' using the Immunochip and replication of the top single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs] with Agena Bioscience in two independent case-control cohorts totalling 322 cases with fibrostenotis [recurrent after surgery] and 619 cases with purely inflammatory CD.
Results: Combined meta-analysis resulted in a genome-wide significant signal for SNP rs11861007 [p = 6.0910(-11)], located on chromosome 16, in lncRNA RP11-679B19.1, an lncRNA of unknown function, and close to exon 9 of the WWOX gene, which codes for WW domain-containing oxidoreductase. We analysed mRNA expression of TGF-beta and downstream genes in ileocecal resection material from ten patients with and without the WWOX risk allele. Patients carrying the risk allele [A] showed enhanced colonic expression of TGF-beta compared to patients homozygous for the wild-type [G] allele [p = 0.0079].
Conclusion: We have identified a variant in WWOX and in lncRNA RP11-679B19.1 as a disease-modifying genetic variant associated with recurrent fibrostenotic CD and replicated this association in an independent cohort. WWOX can potentially play a crucial role in fibrostenosis in CD, being positioned at the crossroads of inflammation and fibrosis.
- Crohn's disease
- WIDE ASSOCIATION
- INTESTINAL FIBROSIS