UK researchers have found seven chromosome regions are shared by the type 1 diabetes and coeliac disease after a study of samples from patients and controls.
The teams from the University of Cambridge and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry studied DNA samples from 8064 patients with type 1 diabetes, 9339 controls, and 2560 patients with celiac disease.
The authors believe the seven shared regions regulate the mechanisms that cause the immune system to attack beta cells in the pancreas and the small intestine.
This suggests both coeliac disease and type 1 diabetes not only share genetic causes but could have similar environmental triggers.
‘The next step is to understand how these susceptibility genes affect the immune system, and to keep exploring environmental factors that might alter the risk of type 1 diabetes, which results from an incredibly complex interaction between nature and nurture,’ said Professor John Todd of the University of Cambridge.
The research is published online in the New England Journal of Medicine.