Dupuytren's Disease: Environment or Heredity?
Scientists are looking for a genetic model to explain Dupuytren's Disease (DD). DD is a benign condition. It causes thick, scar tissue to form in the palm of the hand. One or more fingers are pulled into flexion. It's a common problem in northern European white populations.

In this study adults from northwestern England were recruited. Each one had surgery for DD. Family members were part of the study. Each one filled out a survey. Questions were asked about work history, smoking, and use of alcohol. Special note was made of anyone with liver disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, or epilepsy.

Computer software was used to analyze family history, risk factors, and patterns of disease among siblings. The authors report the following results:

  • Adults with a positive family history of Dupuytren's started getting symptoms earlier than those without a family history.
  • Severity of Dupuytren's is greater for those with a positive family history.
  • Patients with a positive family history who develop Dupuytren's have more fingers affected than those with no family history.
  • The incidence of a family history of DD was 41 percent in this study; this is the same as reported in other studies.
  • In this study there was no link between family members having Dupuytren's and the shared environment (alcohol use, work status, smoking).

    According to the results of this study DD is more likely to be caused by genetics than environmental risk factors. This information may help doctors identify affected individuals. Treatment can be offered sooner.
    Sandip Hindocha, MBChB, et al. The Heritability of Dupuytren's Disease: Familial Aggregation and Its Clinical Significance. In The Journal of Hand Surgery. February 2006. Vol. 31A. No. 2. Pp. 204-210.