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Gut. 2019 May;68(5):928-941. doi: 10.1136/gutjnl-2018-317516. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Non-coding DNA in IBD: from sequence variation in DNA regulatory elements to novel therapeutic potential.

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Division of Pediatrics, Wilhelmina Children's Hospital, University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.


Genome-wide association studies have identified over 200 loci associated with IBD. We and others have recently shown that, in addition to variants in protein-coding genes, the majority of the associated loci are related to DNA regulatory elements (DREs). These findings add a dimension to the already complex genetic background of IBD. In this review we summarise the existing evidence on the role of DREs in IBD. We discuss how epigenetic research can be used in candidate gene approaches that take non-coding variants into account and can help to pinpoint the essential pathways and cell types in the pathogenesis of IBD. Despite the increased level of genetic complexity, these findings can contribute to novel therapeutic options that target transcription factor binding and enhancer activity. Finally, we summarise the future directions and challenges of this emerging field.


Ibd - genetics; gastrointestinal pathology; gene regulation; gene targeting; genetic polymorphisms

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