Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus: Gene Link
Scientists Find Gene Variation Shared by Some Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus Patients
WebMD News Archive
Sept. 5, 2007 -- Scientists have found a genetic tie between rheumatoid
arthritis and lupus.
The finding may eventually inspire similar treatments for rheumatoid
arthritis and lupus, which are autoimmune diseases.
In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks the body.Rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can affect
many parts of the body, including the joints.
Researchers now report that some rheumatoid arthritis patients and lupus
patients share a variation in the STAT4 gene, which is part of the immune
The researchers included Peter Gregersen, MD, who directs the Robert S. Boas
Center for Genomics and Human Genetics at the Feinstein Institute for Medical
Research in Manhasset, N.Y.
Gregersen tells WebMD that he suspects that STAT4 and other genes "are
common susceptibility variants for groups of diseases."
But he cautions that the immune system is so complex that scientists haven't
yet found all the gene variations that affect rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and
other autoimmune diseases.
"You can get to the same clinical appearance by multiple genetic
mechanisms. Does that translate into similar mechanisms at the functional level
that become targets for new therapies? That is the big question," says
Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus Gene Study
Gregersen and other scientists in the U.S., Sweden, and South
Korea compared DNA in and around 13 genes that had previously been linked
to rheumatoid arthritis.
The scientists found that variations in the STAT4 gene were more common in
more than 3,100 rheumatoid arthritis patients than in some 3,500 people who
don't have rheumatoid arthritis.
Those same variations in the STAT4 gene were also more common among 1,039
lupus patients than among more than 1,200 people without lupus.
The findings appear in tomorrow's edition of The New England Journal of
With additional reporting by
WebMD Senior Medical Writer Daniel J. Denoon.