At this moment, few confirmed associations between NOD2 mutations and diseases other than Crohn's disease (CD) and Blau syndrome (BS) have been reported, but research is ongoing in several fields where a genetic susceptibility factor and/or a role for the innate immune system is suspected. Whether the Crohn's-associated CARD15 mutations lead to a loss or gain of function of the NOD2 receptor is subject to controversy, and by which mechanisms this change in function might increase the susceptibility to CD is still under investigation. The possible involvement of NOD2/CARD15 in the pathogenesis of certain diseases with already (partially) unraveled pathophysiologic mechanisms might contribute to our further understanding of NOD2/CARD15 and its function in CD. We review studies on the association of CARD15 variants with diseases other than CD. The association of NOD2/CARD15 mutations with CD and BS, and possibly also early onset sarcoidosis, suggests a role for the gene in the development of granulomata and granulomatous diseases, possibly by inappropriate activation of the immune system. The data from the oncology field suggest that this inappropriate activation might even lead to uncontrolled proliferation of certain cell types. The studies in allergic diseases and atopy are the largest so far, and the association of NOD2/CARD15 mutations with atopic phenotypes might be an indication that CARD15 also plays a role in the Th2 pathway. Finally, transplantation studies indicate that the genetic background of a patient should be taken into account when considering hematopoietic stem cell transplantation, given the increased risk of mortality and graft versus host disease observed. Whether NOD2 variants are also associated with an increased risk for infections and sepsis in patients receiving immunosuppressive therapies is unclear.
(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2007)