discoveries magazine

Genetic Risk For Fatal Blood Clots Identified

An illustration of treating blood clots from IBD.

Blood clots are the leading cause of death in people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). A Cedars-Sinai-led study has discovered genetic markers that identify which IBD patients are at highest risk of developing these potentially fatal complications.

"The genetic signature we found more than doubled the risk of developing potentially fatal blood clots in approximately 1 in 7 IBD patients," says Dermot P. McGovern, MD, PhD, director of Translational Research in the Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute, and the Joshua L. and Lisa Z. Greer Chair in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Genetics.

Although gastrointestinal inflammation, age, pregnancy and other factors can be a risk factor for blood clots, "very little was known about the impact of genetics," McGovern notes.

To fill that knowledge gap, investigators assessed the genetics of 792 IBD patients and then identified patterns associated with the development of clots in veins and arteries. The ability to identify high-risk patients could lead to treatment improvements.

"Understanding the influence of the small and large genetic variants we identified would enable physicians to provide more precise or personalized medical care," McGovern says.