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Study reveals genes make people susceptible to hernias

By
Stephen Feller
Abdominal hernias are among the most diagnosed conditions and performed surgeries each year in the United States. Photo by phugunfire/Shutterstock
Abdominal hernias are among the most diagnosed conditions and performed surgeries each year in the United States. Photo by phugunfire/Shutterstock

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Researchers identified four genes they say predispose some people to abdominal hernias, which may lead to better prevention and treatment methods for the common condition.

Hernias -- tissue that bulges through an abdominal opening -- occur in 2 percent of men, and can be chronic. About 75,000 surgeries per year are performed to correct the condition.

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"Surgical repair of inguinal hernias is one of the most commonly performed operations in the world, yet little is known about the genetic mechanisms that predispose individuals to develop them," said Dr. Eric Jorgenson, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Division of Research, in a press release. "These findings provide insight into the origins of hernia development and highlight genetic pathways for studies of its treatment."

Researchers at the University of California San Francisco and Kaiser Permanente analyzed genomic data on 72,805 of the managed care company's members in the study, published in Nature Communications. Of the members, 5,295 had hernias and 67,510 did not. These were compared with the genomes of 9,701 people who self-reported hernias, and 82,743 people who did not report them, collected by the company 23AndMe.

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The researchers identified four genes that were expressed by hernia patients, but not in people without hernias. Expression of the genes was then confirmed by the researchers in mouse connective tissue, two of which they report are important for connective tissue maintenance and homeostasis.

"Further research into the precise mechanisms through which these regions act may improve our understanding of hernia formation and point the way to more effective preventative, operative and non-surgical treatments of this common disorder," Jorgenson said.

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