Crohn’s disease is a disease in which one or more parts of the gastrointestinal tract swell, get inflamed, and thicken. The colon and last part of the small intestine are most commonly affected by Crohn’s disease. If Crohn’s disease affects only the colon, the symptoms may appear similar to those of ulcerative colitis as both the diseases affect the colon. Ulcerative colitis is effectively treated only by a removal of the colon. When it only affects the colon, Crohn’s disease is termed Crohn’s colitis.
Colonoscopy is used to diagnose Crohn’s disease. In a colonoscopy, a narrow tube is inserted into the lower bowel through the anal canal. The tube has a small camera with a light source to look at the colon lining. Using this, the specialist can view the colon lining. Colonoscopy is considered best to diagnose this disease through a direct visualization of the colon. Patients of Crohn’s disease also risk developing colon cancer. Radiological tests are performed in case the small abnormalities in the colon are difficult to detect through a colonoscopy.
Causes of Crohn’s disease are not known but researchers believe this disease may be due to genetic disorder. It is considered that genetic variations may lead to this genetic disorder. Environmental factors, along with genetic disorder, are found to be the major causes. In fact, it is the first genetic disorder that has been studied in detail to establish the relationship between environmental factors and the immune system. It is also known as a complex gene disorder as multiple genes contribute to this disease.
A recent study conducted on this genetic disorder has identified that damage to the human gene NOD2 is associated with this disease. People with a greater genetic component are likely to develop this genetic disorder early as compared to those with a lesser genetic component. Scientists have found that this genetic disorder is also linked with other diseases.
To understand this genetic disorder in more detail, chromosomes and genes should be examined. Humans have 23 chromosome pairs. Some parts of chromosome 5 and chromosome 10 have been linked with Crohn’s disease. Scientists have found changes in around 30 genes on the chromosome 5 and chromosome 10 that increase the risk of development of this genetic disorder. Variations in some regions of chromosome 5 and chromosome 10 appear to contribute to increased risk of Crohn’s disease. IBD5 locus is one area on chromosome 5 that contains several genetic variations. Other regions found on chromosome 5 and chromosome 10 have no genes at all. These are called gene deserts and may contribute to this genetic disorder.
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