Gene role in stomach ulcers investigated

Genetics plays a part in peptic ulcer disease – but does not fully explain geographic variations in the disease, according to a major new study.

The role of genetics includes partly explaining the response of patients to helicobacter pylori infection, one of the major causes of the disease, according to Japanese researchers.

The researchers at the University of Tokyo undertook genetic analysis of 50,000 patients and 900,000 other people of East Asian and European ancestry for the research, reported in Nature Genetics.

They have found 25 genetic markers for susceptibility to ulcers in both populations of patients.

The common genetic factors lead the researchers to suggest that environmental factors may be responsible as much as genetic factors for differences in incidence and disease response amongst the two populations. In Japan stomach ulcers are more common than duodenal ulcers while in Europe the situation is reversed.

Researcher Professor Yoichiro Kamatani said: “Building upon our previous studies looking at other factors surrounding peptic ulcers, we concluded that the way gastrointestinal cells differentiate from one another during gastric repair and the way gastrointestinal hormones are regulated play a critical role in the formation of peptic ulcers.

“This knowledge may help provide specific targets for new drugs to reduce symptoms, and the genetic analysis could improve the way medical practitioners rate risks for peptic ulcers, even at the individual level.”

East Asian-specific and cross-ancestry genome-wide meta-analyses provide mechanistic insights into peptic ulcer disease. Nature Genetics 8 December 2023


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