Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) does appear to have a strong hereditary component.
This means that it can be passed down from parents to their children through genetic factors.
However, this is absolutely not a guarantee.
Not everyone with a family history of AS will develop the condition (in fact the probability is low), and not everyone with AS has a family history of the disease.
The genes that are most strongly associated with AS are part of the HLA-B27 gene complex.
HLA-B27 is a protein that helps the immune system to recognise and respond to foreign invaders such as bacteria or viruses.
However, in people with AS, the immune system mistakenly attacks the body’s own tissues, leading to inflammation and damage.
About 90% of people with AS have the HLA-B27 gene, compared to only about 8% of the general population.
Having the HLA-B27 gene doesn’t necessarily mean that a person will develop AS, however.
In fact, most people with the gene never develop the disease.
Other genetic and environmental factors may also play a role in the development of AS.
Certain environmental factors, such as smoking, have been linked to an increased risk of developing AS, even in people who do not have the HLA-B27 genetic variant.
In addition, some research suggests that certain gut bacteria may also play a role in the development of AS.
Despite the strong genetic component of AS, genetics are only one piece of the puzzle.
Lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, and stress management can also play a role in managing the condition and reducing the risk of complications.
That’s why it’s important for people with AS to work with their rheumatologist and work their well being. This may include physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and other treatments.