Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis identifies fourteen non-HLA shared loci

PLoS Genet. 2011 Feb;7(2):e1002004. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002004. Epub 2011 Feb 24.


Epidemiology and candidate gene studies indicate a shared genetic basis for celiac disease (CD) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the extent of this sharing has not been systematically explored. Previous studies demonstrate that 6 of the established non-HLA CD and RA risk loci (out of 26 loci for each disease) are shared between both diseases. We hypothesized that there are additional shared risk alleles and that combining genome-wide association study (GWAS) data from each disease would increase power to identify these shared risk alleles. We performed a meta-analysis of two published GWAS on CD (4,533 cases and 10,750 controls) and RA (5,539 cases and 17,231 controls). After genotyping the top associated SNPs in 2,169 CD cases and 2,255 controls, and 2,845 RA cases and 4,944 controls, 8 additional SNPs demonstrated P<5 × 10(-8) in a combined analysis of all 50,266 samples, including four SNPs that have not been previously confirmed in either disease: rs10892279 near the DDX6 gene (P(combined) = 1.2 × 10(-12)), rs864537 near CD247 (P(combined) = 2.2 × 10(-11)), rs2298428 near UBE2L3 (P(combined) = 2.5 × 10(-10)), and rs11203203 near UBASH3A (P(combined) = 1.1 × 10(-8)). We also confirmed that 4 gene loci previously established in either CD or RA are associated with the other autoimmune disease at combined P<5 × 10(-8) (SH2B3, 8q24, STAT4, and TRAF1-C5). From the 14 shared gene loci, 7 SNPs showed a genome-wide significant effect on expression of one or more transcripts in the linkage disequilibrium (LD) block around the SNP. These associations implicate antigen presentation and T-cell activation as a shared mechanism of disease pathogenesis and underscore the utility of cross-disease meta-analysis for identification of genetic risk factors with pleiotropic effects between two clinically distinct diseases.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Celiac Disease / genetics*
  • Celiac Disease / immunology
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Histocompatibility Antigens / genetics
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Selection, Genetic
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Histocompatibility Antigens