Genetically transitional disease: conceptual understanding and applicability to rheumatic disease

Timothy B. Niewold, Ivona Aksentijevich, Peter D. Gorevic, Greg Gibson, Qingping Yao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In genomic medicine, the concept of genetically transitional disease (GTD) refers to cases in which gene mutation is necessary but not sufficient to cause disease. In this Perspective, we apply this novel concept to rheumatic diseases, which have been linked to hundreds of genetic variants via association studies. These variants are in the ‘grey zone’ between monogenic variants with large effect sizes and common susceptibility alleles with small effect sizes. Among genes associated with rare autoinflammatory diseases, many low-frequency and/or low-penetrance variants are known to increase susceptibility to systemic inflammation. In autoimmune diseases, hundreds of HLA and non-HLA genetic variants have been revealed to be modest- to moderate-risk alleles. These diseases can be reclassified as GTDs. The same concept could apply to many other human diseases. GTD could improve the reporting of genetic testing results, diagnostic yields, genetic counselling and selection of therapy, as well as facilitating research using a novel approach to human genetic diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-310
Number of pages10
JournalNature reviews. Rheumatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2024
Externally publishedYes


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