Aim: Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC) are multifactorial diseases with a significant genetic background. Apart from CARD15/NOD2 gene, evidence is accumulating that molecules related to the innate immune response such as CD14 or Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), are involved in their pathogenesis. In further exploring the genetic background of these diseases, we investigated the variations in the CARD15/NOD2 gene (Arg702Trp, Gly908Arg and Leu1007fsinsC), and polymorphisms in the TLR4 gene (Asp299Gly and Thr399Ile) as well as in the promoter of the CD14 gene (T/C at position -159) in Greek patients with CD and UC.
Methods: DNA was obtained from 120 patients with CD, 85 with UC and 100 healthy individuals. Genotyping was performed by allele specific PCR or by PCR-RFLP analysis.
Results: The 299Gly allele frequency of the TLR4 gene and the T allele and TT genotype frequencies of the CD14 promoter were significantly higher in CD patients only compared to healthy individuals (P = 0.026<0.05; P = 0.0048<0.01 and P = 0.047<0.05 respectively). Concerning the NOD2/CARD15 mutations the overall presence in CD patients was significantly higher than that in UC patients or in controls. Additionally, 51.67% of the CD patients were carriers of a TLR4 and/or CD14 polymorphic allele and at least one variant of the NOD2/CARD15, compared to 27% of the UC patients. It should be pointed out that both frequencies significantly increased as compared with the 10% frequency of multiple carriers found in healthy controls. A possible interaction of the NOD2/CARD15 with TLR4 and especially CD14, increased the risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
Conclusion: Our results indicate that co-existence of a mutation in either the TLR4 or CD14 gene, and in NOD2/CARD15 is associated with an increased susceptibility to developing CD compared to UC, and to developing either CD or UC compared to healthy individuals.