IBD an emerging disease among Ethiopian Jews migrating to Israel

Reuters Health Information: IBD an emerging disease among Ethiopian Jews migrating to Israel

IBD an emerging disease among Ethiopian Jews migrating to Israel

Last Updated: 2015-02-05

By Reuters Staff

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is an emerging disease among Ethiopian Jewish people migrating to Israel, a finding that highlights the importance of environmental factors in IBD pathogenesis, researchers say.

In their report online now in the journal Inflammatory Bowel Diseases, Dr. Ariella Bar-Gil Shitrit, of Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, and colleagues note that the incidence of IBD varies among different ethnic groups and is particularly high among Jewish people. But in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole and specifically in Ethiopia, IBD is "almost unheard of."

From 1984 to 1992, nearly 22,000 Ethiopian Jews immigrated to Israel. Today, about 116,000 Israelis of Ethiopian origin live in Israel, representing 1.5% of the population.

Dr. Bar-Gil Shitrit and colleagues investigated the onset and characteristics of IBD in 32 Ethiopian Jewish immigrants to Israel and 33 Ashkenazi Jewish controls to "gain insight about possible effects of environmental exposures and genetic background on the disease in immigrants."

None of the Ethiopians had a family history of IBD (compared with 42% of the Ashkenazi group) and "strikingly" none had IBD or characteristic IBD symptoms before immigrating to Israel, the investigators say. However, they developed IBD in as few as eight years after migrating to Israel (range 8 to 26 years).

"This duration can be hypothesized to alter an individual's susceptibility to acquire IBD by multiple environmental exposures, thereby culminating in de novo evolution of IBD. Because of the extremely low prevalence of IBD in Ethiopia, it is likely that a majority of these patients would not have developed IBD had (they) stayed in Ethiopia," the investigators write.

The Ethiopians were younger when they developed IBD than their Ashkenazi counterparts, although the difference did not reach statistical significance.

The investigators note that the incidence of IBD is increasing in countries that previously had a low case load. A "recent slow increase" also has occurred in the incidence of ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's disease (CD) in migrant populations settling in developed countries. This hints that the disease incidence after immigration "adopts a trend resembling that of the indigenous population," they say.

"A thorough investigation of different exposures was beyond the scope of this study but may in the future shed light on a possible mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of IBD," the study team concludes.

The study had no funding and the authors have no conflicts of interest.

SOURCE: http://bit.ly/1zJHeQF

Inflamm Bowel Dis 2015.

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