The role of monogenic disease in children with very early onset inflammatory bowel disease

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Purpose of review

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a multifactorial disease caused by dysregulated immune responses to commensal or pathogenic intestinal microbes, resulting in chronic intestinal inflammation. Patients diagnosed with IBD occurring before the age of 5 are a unique population, known as very early onset (VEO)-IBD and can be phenotypically and genetically distinct from older-onset IBD. We aim to review the clinical presentation of children with VEO-IBD and recent discoveries that point to genomic drivers of disease that may impact our therapeutic decisions.

Recent findings

VEO-IBD is increasing in incidence and is associated with more severe disease, aggressive progression and poor response to most conventional therapies. This article will review the advances in sequencing technology that have led to identification of novel gene variants associated with disease and potentially new targeted therapeutic options.


Children with VEO-IBD may present with a different phenotype and more severe disease than older children and adults. Identification of the causal gene or pathways, these children may allow for true precision medicine with targeted therapy and improved disease course.

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