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J Invest Dermatol. 2010 Mar;130(3):798-803. doi: 10.1038/jid.2009.347. Epub 2009 Nov 5.

Genome-wide association study of generalized vitiligo in an isolated European founder population identifies SMOC2, in close proximity to IDDM8.

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  • 1Human Medical Genetics Program, Department of Dermatology, University of Colorado Denver, Aurora, Colorado 80045, USA.


Generalized vitiligo is a common disorder in which patchy loss of skin and hair pigmentation principally appears to result from autoimmune loss of melanocytes from affected regions. We previously characterized a unique founder population in an isolated Romanian community with elevated prevalence of generalized vitiligo and other autoimmune diseases, including autoimmune thyroid disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and type I diabetes mellitus. Here, we describe a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of generalized vitiligo in 32 distantly related affected patients from this remote village and 50 healthy controls from surrounding villages. Vitiligo was significantly associated with single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in a 30-kb LD block on chromosome 6q27, in close vicinity to IDDM8, a linkage and association signal for type I diabetes mellitus and rheumatoid arthritis. The region of association contains only one gene, SMOC2, within which SNP rs13208776 attained genome-wide significance for association with generalized vitiligo (P=8.51x10(-8)) at odds ratio 7.445 (95% confidence interval=3.56-15.53) for the high-risk allele and population attributable risk 28.00. SMOC2 encodes a modular extracellular calcium-binding glycoprotein of unknown function. Our findings indicate that SMOC2 is a risk locus for generalized vitiligo and perhaps other autoimmune diseases.

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