Your browser does not support javascript:   Search for gard hereSearch for news-and-events here.


Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Print friendly version

Crohn's disease


* Not a rare disease
Other Names for this Disease
  • Enteritis
  • Granulomatous colitis
  • Granulomatous enteritis
  • Ileitis
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.


Newline Maker

What causes Crohn's disease?

The exact cause of Crohn's disease is not known, but it appears to be a multifactorial condition. This means that both genetic and environmental factors likely interact to predispose an individual to being affected. Studies suggest that Crohn's disease may result from a combination of certain genetic variations, changes in the immune system, and the presence of bacteria in the digestive tract.[1]

Recent studies have found that variations in specific genes, including the ATG16L1, IL23R, IRGM, and NOD2 genes, influence the risk of developing Crohn's disease. These genes provide instructions for making proteins that are involved in immune system function. Variations in any of these genes may disrupt the ability of intestinal cells to respond to bacteria, leading to chronic inflammation and thus the signs and symptoms of the condition. There may also be genetic variations in regions of chromosome 5 and chromosome 10 that contribute to an increased risk to develop Crohn's disease.[1]
Last updated: 10/15/2012

  1. Crohn disease. Genetics Home Reference. August 2007; Accessed 10/15/2012.