Changing epidemiology of immune-mediated inflammatory diseases in immigrants: A systematic review of population-based studies

Agrawal M1, Shah S2, Patel A3, Pinotti R4, Colombel JF5, Burisch J6.


Author information

The Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA. Electronic address: manasi.agrawal@mountsinai.org.

Division of Gastroenterology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA.

Division of Gastroenterology, Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, USA.

Levy Library, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, NY, USA.

The Dr. Henry D. Janowitz Division of Gastroenterology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY, USA.

Division of Gastroenterology, Hvidovre Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.


BACKGROUND: Immune-mediated inflammatory diseases (IMIDs) are systemic diseases of multifactorial etiology that share aberrant immune responses as the common final pathway. With rising globalization, their incidence is increasing in developing countries and among immigrants. Our primary objective was to systematically review the epidemiology of IMIDs in immigrants and conduct a meta-analysis to estimate the risk of IMIDs in immigrant populations according to their origin and destination countries.

METHODS: We systematically searched five biomedical databases and reviewed population-based studies, from inception through August 2018, that reported incidence or prevalence data of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), multiple sclerosis (MS), type 1 diabetes (T1D), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS) or psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PPA) among immigrants and the host population.

RESULTS: The incidence and prevalence of IMIDs among immigrants differ from host populations, and evolve over subsequent generations. The risk of IBD among immigrants approximates that in hosts, especially among South Asians, with ulcerative colitis incidence changing prior to Crohn's disease incidence. MS risk is highest in Iranian immigrants, T1D in African immigrants and SLE in African and Iraqi immigrants. Data on other IMIDs are sparse. Significant heterogeneity between the studies precluded meta-analysis.

CONCLUSION: Based on our systematic review, the epidemiology of IMIDs among immigrants varies according to native and host countries, immigrant generation, and IMID type. The rapid evolution suggests a role for non-genetic factors and gene-environment interactions. Future studies should focus on these pattern shifts, given implications of rising global burden of IMIDs and immigration.

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