Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a multifactorial disorder, with both genetic and environmental factors contributing to the two clinical phenotypes of Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). The underlying genetic model is thought to involve multiple genes with complex interactions between disease loci, and the NOD2 gene on chromosome 16 has recently been identified as a CD susceptibility locus. Several genome-wide linkage studies have identified candidate regions, but there has been little replication across studies. Here we investigate the role of sex-specific loci in susceptibility to IBD. Linkage data from our previously reported genome search and follow-up study were stratified by the sex of the affected sib pair. Non-parametric linkage analysis was performed using Genehunter Plus. Simulation studies were used to assess the significance of differences in LOD scores between male and female families for each chromosome. Several regions of sex-specific linkage were identified, including existing and novel candidate loci. The major histocompatibility region on chromosome 6p, referred to as IBD3, showed evidence of male-specific linkage with a maximum LOD score of 5.9 in both CD and UC male-affected families. Regions on chromosomes 11, 14 and 18 showed strong evidence of linkage in male-affected families but not in female-affected families. No evidence of sex-specific linkage was found in the IBD1 or IBD2 candidate regions of chromosomes 16 and 12. The existence of sex-specific linkage is further evidence of the complex mechanisms involved in IBD and will facilitate future studies to identify susceptibility genes.
- Chromosome 6