DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Rheumatoid Arthritis & Diabetes Gene

Medical Authors and Editors Barbara K. Hecht, Ph.D. and Frederick Hecht, M.D.

There are basically two types of gene mutations in respect to disease. One type of mutation causes a disease. For example, the mutant gene may cause achrondroplasia (a form of dwarfism) or it may cause hemophilia or cystic fibrosis or sickle cell disease. The existence of genes that cause diseases has long been recognized.

The other type of gene mutation does not directly cause a disease but rather predisposes to it. These genes make a person susceptible to developing a disease. These susceptibility genes often involve common chronic diseases such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis.

An important finding has just been made about the genetic susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis and autoimmunity. We will outline the finding.

Background: Rheumatoid arthritis is the most common systemic autoimmune disease. It affects 1% of all adults in the world. The disease is characterized by immune-mediated destruction of the joint architecture. It is 2 to 3 times more common in women than men. The heritability of rheumatoid arthritis is 60%, reflecting a strong genetic component in the disease.