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Genetics and the axial spondyloarthritis spectrum

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Matthew A. Brown, Huji Xu, Zhixiu Li

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)iv58-iv66
JournalRheumatology (Oxford, England)
Issue number4
Published1 Oct 2020

King's Authors


The axial SpAs (axSpAs) are clearly clinically a heterogeneous set of diseases with markedly varying extra-articular features. These diseases are all highly heritable and have overlapping but differing genetic origins. Shared features include association with HLA class I alleles and genes of the IL-23 pathway, among other things. Significant differences do exist however, both in the genetic loci involved and at specific loci in the individual genetic variants associated with each disease. These similarities and differences are of great interest in regards to disease pathogenesis and treatment development, although individually they are too small in effect to be of prognostic or diagnostic value. Polygenic risk scores, which capture a high proportion of the genetic variation between disorders, have been shown to have clinically useful discriminatory capacity in axSpA. This suggests they have the potential to enable improved disease classification, incorporating basic pathogenic features such as genomics, and ultimately benefitting clinical care. The aim of this article is to review the genetic characteristics of the spectrum of axSpAs and to discuss how this influences our understanding of the disease pathogenesis and the clinical implications of this understanding.

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