Background: Many studies suggest the implication of genetic factors in inflammatory bowel diseases. Despite some associations with HLA genes, the lack of definite data may be due to ethnic variations, clinical heterogeneity, or the involvement of additional susceptibility genes beside or within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), such as TAP genes. The aim of this study was to analyze in patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) or Crohn's disease (CD) the polymorphism of TAP genes that encode the proteins necessary for the transfer of antigenic peptides through the endoplasmic reticulum membrane.
Methods: One hundred and one UC and 148 CD patients were compared with 173 unrelated healthy controls. Dimorphisms within the TAP1 and TAP2 alleles were analyzed by sequence-specific oligonucleotide typing.
Results: No difference was found between patient groups and controls. However, when CD patients were classified on the basis of their responsiveness to steroid therapy, a significant decrease of TAP2 AA (*0101/*0101) genotype was found in CD patients who did not respond to steroid therapy (22.9% versus 43.7% in steroid responder group; Pc < 0.05; odds ratio = 2.6; 95% confidence limits (CL) = 1.2-5.9). These data appear independent of the distribution of HLA DRB1*01 or DRB1*03 alleles despite a significant linkage disequilibrium between these alleles and TAP2A.
Conclusions: This result suggests, despite the absence of arguments favoring a genetic susceptibility to CD, that the TAP2 gene or other genes located on chromosome 6 may be involved in the genetic heterogeneity of CD.