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1.  Evidence for STAT4 as a Common Autoimmune Gene: rs7574865 Is Associated with Colonic Crohn's Disease and Early Disease Onset 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(4):e10373.
Background
Recent studies demonstrated an association of STAT4 variants with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA), indicating that multiple autoimmune diseases share common susceptibility genes. We therefore investigated the influence of STAT4 variants on the susceptibility and phenotype of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) in a large patient and control cohort.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genomic DNA from 2704 individuals of Caucasian origin including 857 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 464 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1383 healthy, unrelated controls was analyzed for seven SNPs in the STAT4 gene (rs11889341, rs7574865, rs7568275, rs8179673, rs10181656, rs7582694, rs10174238). In addition, a detailed genotype-phenotype analysis was performed. Our analysis revealed an association of the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 with overall decreased susceptibility to CD (p = 0.047, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–0.99]). However, compared to CD patients carrying the wild type genotype, the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 was significantly associated with early CD onset (p = 0.021) and colonic CD (p = 0.008; OR = 4.60, 95% CI 1.63–12.96). For two other STAT4 variants, there was a trend towards protection against CD susceptibility (rs7568275, p = 0.058, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.74–1.00]; rs10174238, p = 0.057, OR 0.86 [95% CI 0.75–1.00]). In contrast, we did not observe any association with UC susceptibility. Evidence for weak gene-gene interaction of STAT4 with the IL23R SNP rs11209026 was lost after Bonferroni correction.
Conclusions/Significance
Our results identified the STAT4 SNP rs7574865 as a disease-modifying gene variant in colonic CD. However, in contrast to SLE and RA, the effect of rs7574865 on CD susceptibility is only weak.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0010373
PMCID: PMC2861592  PMID: 20454450
2.  rs1004819 Is the Main Disease-Associated IL23R Variant in German Crohn's Disease Patients: Combined Analysis of IL23R, CARD15, and OCTN1/2 Variants 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(9):e819.
Background
The IL23R gene has been identified as a susceptibility gene for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) in the North American population. The aim of our study was to test this association in a large German IBD cohort and to elucidate potential interactions with other IBD genes as well as phenotypic consequences of IL23R variants.
Methods
Genomic DNA from 2670 Caucasian individuals including 833 patients with Crohn's disease (CD), 456 patients with ulcerative colitis (UC), and 1381 healthy unrelated controls was analyzed for 10 IL23R SNPs. Genotyping included the NOD2 variants p.Arg702Trp, p.Gly908Arg, and p.Leu1007fsX1008 and polymorphisms in SLC22A4/OCTN1 (1672 C→T) and SLC22A5/OCTN2 (–207 G→C).
Results
All IL23R gene variants analyzed displayed highly significant associations with CD. The strongest association was found for the SNP rs1004819 [P = 1.92×10−11; OR 1.56; 95 % CI (1.37–1.78)]. 93.2% of the rs1004819 TT homozygous carriers as compared to 78% of CC wildtype carriers had ileal involvement [P = 0.004; OR 4.24; CI (1.46–12.34)]. The coding SNP rs11209026 (p.Arg381Gln) was protective for CD [P = 8.04×10−8; OR 0.43; CI (0.31–0.59)]. Similar, but weaker associations were found in UC. There was no evidence for epistasis between the IL23R gene and the CD susceptibility genes CARD15 and SLC22A4/5.
Conclusion
IL23R is an IBD susceptibility gene, but has no epistatic interaction with CARD15 and SLC22A4/5. rs1004819 is the major IL23R variant associated with CD in the German population, while the p.Arg381Gln IL23R variant is a protective marker for CD and UC.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000819
PMCID: PMC1950565  PMID: 17786191
3.  On the genetic involvement of apoptosis-related genes in Crohn's disease as revealed by an extended association screen using 245 markers: no evidence for new predisposing factors 
Crohn's disease (CD) presents as an inflammatory barrier disease with characteristic destructive processes in the intestinal wall. Although the pathomechanisms of CD are still not exactly understood, there is evidence that, in addition to e.g. bacterial colonisation, genetic predisposition contributes to the development of CD. In order to search for predisposing genetic factors we scrutinised 245 microsatellite markers in a population-based linkage mapping study. These microsatellites cover gene loci the encoded protein of which take part in the regulation of apoptosis and (innate) immune processes. Respective loci contribute to the activation/suppression of apoptosis, are involved in signal transduction and cell cycle regulators or they belong to the tumor necrosis factor superfamily, caspase related genes or the BCL2 family. Furthermore, several cytokines as well as chemokines were included. The approach is based on three steps: analyzing pooled DNAs of patients and controls, verification of significantly differing microsatellite markers by genotyping individual DNA samples and, finally, additional reinvestigation of the respective gene in the region covered by the associated microsatellite by analysing single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). Using this step-wise process we were unable to demonstrate evidence for genetic predisposition of the chosen apoptosis- and immunity-related genes with respect to susceptibility for CD.
doi:10.1186/1477-5751-4-8
PMCID: PMC1315346  PMID: 16318629
4.  Complex genetic predisposition in adult and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis 
BMC Genetics  2004;5:2.
Background
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and juvenile rheumatoid arthritis (JRA) are complex multifactorial diseases caused by environmental influences and an unknown number of predisposing genes. The present study was undertaken in order to investigate association of polymorphisms in candidate genes with RA and JRA in German subjects.
Results
Up to 200 unrelated German RA and JRA patients each and 300–400 healthy controls have been genotyped for HLA-DRB1, TNFa, TNFA -238a/g, TNFA -308a/g, TNFA -857c/t, TNFR1 -609g/t, TNFR1 P12P, TNFR2 del 15bp, IKBL -332a/g, IKBL -132t/a, IKBL C224R, CTLA4 -318c/t, CTLA4 T17A, PTPRC P57P, MIF -173g/c, the MIF and IFNG microsatellites as well as for D17S795, D17S807, D17S1821 by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, single-strand conformation polymorphism analysis, restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis or allele specific hybridization. None of the investigated genetic markers is associated with both, RA and JRA, but there are some statistically significant differences between patients and controls that have to be discussed sensibly.
Conclusions
The difficulty in investigating the genetics of complex disorders like RA and JRA may arise from genetic heterogeneity in the clinically defined disease cohorts (and generally limited power of such studies). In addition, several to many genes appear to be involved in the genetic predisposition, each of which exerting only small effects. The number of investigated patients has to be increased to establish the possibility of subdivison of the patients according their clinical symptoms, severity of disease, HLA status and other genetic characteristics.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-5-2
PMCID: PMC356909  PMID: 15018649

Results 1-4 (4)