Achalasia: will genetic studies provide insights?

Human Genetics
Henning R GockelMarkus M Nöthen

Abstract

Despite increasing understanding of the pathophysiology of achalasia, the etiology of this esophageal motility disorder remains largely unknown. However, the occurrence of familial achalasia and its association with well-defined genetic syndromes suggest the involvement of genetic factors. Mutant mouse models display gastrointestinal disturbances that are similar to those observed in achalasia patients. The candidate gene approach has revealed some promising results; however, it has not established conclusive links to specific genes so far. The aim of this review was to summarize current knowledge of the genetics of achalasia. We also discuss the extent to which our understanding of achalasia is likely to be enhanced through future molecular genetic research.

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