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Genetic susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus in Finnish families

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The first nationwide study in Finland to map genetic factors conferring susceptibility to systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) has been completed. Suggestive linkage was observed in three genetic regions: 5p, 6q25-q27 and 14q21-q23. A further region, chromosome 6p (locus for human leucocyte antigen (HLA)) was also suggestive of linkage after a marker gap was filled.

A total of 17 genes have already been linked significantly to SLE using model based and non-parametric approaches. This study adds to this evidence; two of the regions, HLA region and 14q21-q23 have previously been reported, while the remaining two, 5p and 6q25-q27, were novel regions.

As the model of inheritance of SLE is not known, linkage analysis with non-parametric analysis was used. In all four regions identified, non-parametric linkage scores increased as information provided by additional markers increased, but none reached the threshold for significant linkage.

The extensive hospital registration system in Finland meant that approximately 85% of all patients with SLE who needed hospital based treatment were identified for this study. Seventy three patients and 96 healthy relatives from 35 families were investigated. A further study is now planned to identify common ancestral chromosomes among a larger cohort of patients with SLE and controls by high resolution mapping.