Discovery of Parkinson’s Disease Gene Variant in Study of Individuals with African Ancestry

Crohn’s disease is a chronic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects millions of people worldwide. Similar to its counterpart, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease primarily targets the digestive system, but it has distinct characteristics and implications. In this article, we’ll delve into the details of Crohn’s disease, examining its symptoms, risk factors, and available treatment options.

Understanding Crohn’s Disease: Symptoms and Impact

Crohn’s disease is marked by inflammation that can occur anywhere along the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, from the mouth to the anus. This inflammation can lead to a range of distressing symptoms, including:

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  • Abdominal Pain: Intense and persistent abdominal pain is a hallmark of Crohn’s disease. The pain is often cramp-like and can be exacerbated after eating.
  • Diarrhea: Frequent and watery diarrhea is a common symptom. In severe cases, this can lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • Fatigue: Chronic inflammation can lead to fatigue and a general feeling of tiredness.
  • Weight Loss: Reduced appetite and nutrient absorption issues can result in weight loss.
  • Ulcers and Fistulas: Inflammation can lead to ulcers in the GI tract and even the formation of abnormal connections between organs called fistulas.

Unveiling the Risk Factors and Causes

While the exact cause of Crohn’s disease remains unclear, several factors are thought to contribute to its development. These include:

  • Genetics: Individuals with a family history of Crohn’s disease are at a higher risk of developing the condition. Certain genetic mutations may play a role in its onset.
  • Immune System Dysfunction: An overactive immune response to normal gut bacteria could trigger chronic inflammation.
  • Environmental Factors: Exposure to certain environmental triggers, such as a diet high in processed foods, smoking, and pollution, may increase the risk.
  • Previous Infections: Some infections might increase the susceptibility to Crohn’s disease in genetically predisposed individuals.

Navigating Treatment Options

Managing Crohn’s disease involves a multifaceted approach aimed at reducing inflammation, alleviating symptoms, and improving quality of life. Treatment options include:

  • Medications: Anti-inflammatory drugs, immunosuppressants, and biologics are commonly used to manage inflammation and provide symptom relief.
  • Nutritional Therapy: In some cases, dietary adjustments and nutritional supplements can help manage symptoms and maintain proper nutrient intake.
  • Lifestyle Changes: Quitting smoking, reducing stress, and maintaining a balanced diet are essential for managing Crohn’s disease.
  • Surgery: In severe cases, surgery might be necessary to remove damaged sections of the GI tract or treat complications like fistulas.

The Road to Better Understanding

Research into Crohn’s disease is ongoing, and like Parkinson’s disease, it’s essential to consider diverse populations when studying its genetic and environmental influences. By uncovering the complexities of Crohn’s disease, we can develop targeted treatments and interventions that improve the lives of those affected by this chronic condition.

According to the World Health Organization(link is external), more than 8.5 million people around the world have Parkinson’s, a brain disorder that typically affects people 60 years of age or older. Initially, the disease can cause slowness, as well as balance and movement problems, including tremors and stiffness. Over time, the disorder may worsen, causing problems with walking, talking, sleeping, remembering, and mood.

Researchers can obtain data from the study by accessing the Accelerating Medicines Partnership® (AMP®)(link is external) program platform. The AMP® PD program is a public-private partnership managed by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health and funded by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in partnership with the ASAP; Celgene Corporation, a subsidiary of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company; GlaxoSmithKline plc; MJFF; Pfizer Inc.; Sanofi US Services Inc.; and Verily Life Sciences.

This study was funded by: NIH Intramural Research Programs at the National Institute on Aging (ZIAAG000535, ZIAAG000949), NINDS, and the National Human Genome Research Institute; NIH grants (P50NS108675, R01NS125294); ASAP; and MJFF (GP2; MJFF-009421/17483).

About the National Institute on Aging (NIA):

NIA leads the U.S. federal government effort to conduct and support research on aging and the health and well-being of older people. Learn more about age-related cognitive change and neurodegenerative diseases via NIA’s Alzheimer’s and related Dementias Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center website. Visit the main NIA website for information about a range of aging topics, in English and Spanish, and stay connected.

About National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS): 

NINDS is the nation’s leading funder of research on the brain and nervous system. The mission of NINDS is to seek fundamental knowledge about the brain and nervous system and to use that knowledge to reduce the burden of neurological disease.

Conclusion

Crohn’s disease is a complex and chronic condition that affects the gastrointestinal tract. Understanding its symptoms, risk factors, and treatment options is crucial for individuals living with this condition and their healthcare providers. Ongoing research and a comprehensive approach to management offer hope for a better quality of life for those diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

References

Rizig, M; Bandrés-Ciga, S; Makarious, MB; et al. Genome-wide Association Identifies Novel Etiological Insights Associated with Parkinson’s Disease in African and African.

Admixed Populations. The Lancet Neurology. 2023 August 23 doi: 10.1016/S1474-4422(23)00283-1(link is external)