Complex Multifactorial Disorders

Researchers are learning that nearly all conditions and diseases have a genetic component. Some disorders, such as sickle cell disease and cystic fibrosis, are caused by mutations in a single gene. The causes of many other disorders, however, are much more complex. Common medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes, and obesity do not have a single genetic cause—they are likely associated with the effects of multiple genes in combination with lifestyle and environmental factors. Conditions caused by many contributing factors are called complex or multifactorial disorders.

main symptoms of diabetes

Figure: The main symptoms of diabetes

Although complex disorders often cluster in families, they do not have a clear- cut pattern of inheritance. This makes it difficult to determine a person’s risk of inheriting or passing on these disorders. Complex disorders are also difficult to study and treat because the specific factors that cause most of these disorders have not yet been identified. Researchers continue to look for major contributing genes for many common complex disorders.

References

“Mutations and Health” by U.S. National Library of Medicine is in the Public Domain

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Complex Multifactorial Disorders by Lisa Bartee is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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