Vitiligo gene is linked to autoimmune diseases
Scientists from NIAMS have published a study in the New England journal of medicine, in which they have made important discoveries into the genetics of Vitiligo. The researchers investigated people with vitiligo and their relatives who also had vitiligo or other auto-ammine diseases. They have found that vitiligo is highly associated with a number of other auto-immune diseases, mainly of the thyroid, but including pernicious anemia, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, lupus, Addison’s disease and adult-onset auto immune diabetes. They mapped the genome of these individual and discovered a gene NALP1. The investigators have demonstrated that NALP1 predisposes people to vitiligo and other autoimmune diseases especially the auto immune thyroid disorders. It is important to note that 20% of the people with vitiligo also have autoimmune thyroid disorders. And this gene may be involved in causing both of them.
The team of scientists also found that this gene exercises a partial control over our innate immune system. The innate immune system is the first defense mechanism of our body against infection. It is hence suspected that an individual who is genetically predisposed to the afore-mentioned auto immune disorders may receive a triggering signal from an infection. If this link is clearly understood it may explain many missing links about causation of vitiligo and immune disorders.
The study was published in April 2007.