Published online Nov 21, 2009. doi: 10.3748/wjg.15.5377
Revised: September 16, 2009
Accepted: September 23, 2009
Published online: November 21, 2009
Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have been applied to various gastrointestinal and liver diseases in recent years. A large number of susceptibility genes and key biological pathways in disease development have been identified. So far, studies in inflammatory bowel diseases, and in particular Crohn’s disease, have been especially successful in defining new susceptibility loci using the GWAS design. The identification of associations related to autophagy as well as several genes involved in immunological response will be important to future research on Crohn’s disease. In this review, key methodological aspects of GWAS, the importance of proper cohort collection, genotyping issues and statistical methods are summarized. Ways of addressing the shortcomings of the GWAS design, when it comes to rare variants, are also discussed. For each of the relevant conditions, findings from the various GWAS are summarized with a focus on the affected biological systems.