Nearly a third of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients present in childhood or adolescence, with epidemiological and natural history studies clearly demonstrating a rising incidence in this population. Although early-onset disease has a distinct phenotype, such as more extensive disease at onset and rapid progression, two recent genome-wide association studies (GWAS) carried out exclusively in this age group have demonstrated marked genetic similarities to adult disease. Although these parallels exist, this review will focus on the novel regions associated with early-onset IBD susceptibility identified by these early-onset GWAS. These new loci reaffirm the dysregulated pathways previously implicated in adult IBD pathogenesis and provide further insight into the pathophysiology of intestinal inflammation. The newly identified loci and expression data suggest mutations in genes encoding IL-27, which is involved in Th17 effector cell physiology; MTMR3, which we demonstrate is an essential component of autophagy; and CAPN10, which is necessary in regulating endoplasmic reticulum stress. In addition, the roles of PSMG1, TNFRSF6B, ZMIZ1 and SMAD3 are also discussed in relation to abnormal protein degradation and the secondary immune response. It is clear that with increasing technology our understanding of IBD pathogenesis is deepening at the genomic level and that the use of early patient selection coupled with ongoing work on therapeutic targets will lead to improved disease-modifying treatments in the near future.
Copyright © 2010 Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.