Familial and sporadic inflammatory bowel disease: Different entities?

Marc Peelers, Antoine Cortot, Séverine Vermeire, Jean Frédéric Colombel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The strongest risk factor for developing inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is having a relative with the disease. Familial IBD may be one homogeneous subgroup, phenotypically different from sporadic IBD. Several observations support a role for familiarity in disease site and behavior, particularly in Crohn's disease (CD), but published findings do not all concur. Early disease onset is often found in children with IBD who have a parent with the disease. Genetic anticipation may explain this finding but other explanations and/or observational biasis are more likely. Location and type may differ between familial and sporadic CD cases: family studies report many cases involving both small bowel and colon, and few cases of colonic disease alone, although such features may be secondary to early age at onset. Most studies found no effect of positive family history on severity and course of CD. In ulcerative colitis (UC), phenotypic differences between familial and sporadic cases appear to be limited, but little data are available for analysis. No difference has been found between familial and sporadic IBD as far as disease markers such as pANCA, ASCA, or intestinal permeability are concerned. In conclusion, the only message available for clinical practice is that the relative risk of IBD in first-degree relatives is increased by a factor of 10-15 compared with the general population. Families should not receive genetic counseling/information about age at onset and disease severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-320
Number of pages7
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes


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