Common genetic link found in lung conditions, study finds

A study has found that there is a genetic link between two deadly diseases involving the lungs – interstitial and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis associated with rheumatoid arthritis. Picture by pixabay

October 22 (UPI) — A genetic link exists between two deadly diseases involving the lungs – interstitial and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers studied 6,682 patients from the United States, France, China, Greece, Japan, Mexico and the Netherlands with rheumatoid arthritis, including those who did not have interstitial lung disease. The results were published Saturday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

“By discovering this link in the genetic background between these conditions, we now know that interstitial lung disease associated with rheumatoid arthritis and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis have similar causes and may turn out to have similar treatments,” said the former. author, Dr. Joyce Lee, associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, said in a press release.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammatory and autoimmune disease. According to the Arthritis Foundation, most patients with rheumatoid arthritis suffer from lung conditions called interstitial lung disease. The disease, which causes progressive scarring of lung tissue and lung failure, is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality in patients with RA.

In idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, the most common type of progressive pulmonary fibrosis, it becomes difficult to breathe as the scarring gets worse and the lungs cannot take in enough oxygen. The average survival time for IPF patients is three to five years, according to the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

The researchers analyzed data from 620 people with RA-ILD, 614 with RA without ILD, and 5,448 people without any condition.

The researchers found that a specific genetic trait, the rs35705950 variant of the MUC5B promoter, causes a marked increase in mucus production in the lungs. It is the most important genetic risk factor for idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and RA-interstitial lung disease.

The genetic link has been observed in at least 50% of patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and represents 30% of the risk of developing this disease.

“These findings will allow us to identify people with rheumatoid arthritis who are at risk for pulmonary fibrosis and design interventions that may prevent patients with rheumatoid arthritis from developing progressive pulmonary fibrosis,” said the lead author. , Dr. David Schwartz, Chairman of the Department of Medicine. at UC School of Medicine.

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