Background & aims: The human multidrug resistance 1 (MDR1) gene product P-glycoprotein is highly expressed in intestinal epithelial cells, where it constitutes a barrier against xenobiotics. The finding that mdr1a knockout mice develop a form of colitis that is similar to ulcerative colitis, which can be prevented by antibiotics, indicates a barrier function for P-glycoprotein against the invasion of bacteria or toxins. Because the MDR1 single nucleotide polymorphism C3435T is associated with lower intestinal P-glycoprotein expression, we tested whether this polymorphism predisposes to development of ulcerative colitis.
Methods: Allele frequencies and genotype distributions of the C3435T single nucleotide polymorphism were investigated in 149 patients with ulcerative colitis, 126 patients with Crohn's disease, and sex-matched healthy controls.
Results: Significantly increased frequencies of the 3435T allele and the 3435TT genotype were observed in patients with ulcerative colitis compared with controls (3435T: P = 0.049; odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 1.02-1.94; 3435TT: P = 0.045; odds ratio, 2.03; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-3.95). In contrast, frequencies of the T allele and the TT genotype were the same in patients with Crohn's disease as in controls (P = 0.66 and P = 0.59, respectively). In comparison to 998 non-sex-matched controls, the effect for the TT genotype in ulcerative colitis patients was more pronounced (P = 0.0055; odds ratio, 2.1).
Conclusions: The higher frequency of the 3435TT genotype in patients with ulcerative colitis corroborates the findings from the mdr1a knockout mice. The results support the notion that P-glycoprotein plays a major role in the defense against intestinal bacteria or toxins. Impairment of barrier function in 3435TT subjects could render this genotype more susceptible to the development of ulcerative colitis.