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Who gets ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?

Ankylosing spondylitis can affect anyone, although it's most common in young men and most likely to start in your late teens or 20s.

The genes you inherit from your parents may make you more likely to develop AS, but the condition isn’t passed on directly. Most people with ankylosing spondylitis have a gene called HLA-B27, which can be detected by a blood test. This gene isn't the cause of ankylosing spondylitis but it does contribute to it. 

Having this gene doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get AS, and the blood test isn't very useful in diagnosing the condition. Even in families where somebody's been diagnosed with ankylosing spondylitis there may be brothers or sisters who have the HLA-B27 gene but who don't have the condition.

Arthritis Research UK has recently awarded grants for a project which will aim to understand how genes combine to cause AS and find out how alterations in gene regulators influence AS.


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