University of Virginia, Departments of Neurology, Charlottesville, Va, USA.
Background And Purpose: Inflammation plays an important role in the development of atherosclerosis. The gene for the counterinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) is polymorphic, and high frequencies of allele 2 have been found to be associated with other inflammatory diseases. This study examined the association of allele and carrier frequencies of the IL-1ra gene with the presence of carotid atherosclerosis and plaque symptomaticity.
Methods: A total of 328 subjects identified as having carotid atherosclerosis or no atherosclerosis (controls) participated. Blood was obtained for DNA determination.
Results: Frequency of allele 2 was significantly greater in patients with atherosclerosis compared with nonatherosclerotic subjects. No difference was seen between symptomatic and asymptomatic atherosclerosis patients. Noncarriage of allele 2 was associated with reduced likelihood of atherosclerosis (odds ratio [OR], 0.44; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.71). The homozygous carrier state for allele 2 was associated with greater likelihood of atherosclerosis (unadjusted OR, 7.30; 95% CI, 2.31 to 22.94; adjusted OR, 13.78; 95% CI, 1.94 to 97.9). A gene-dose effect was detected.
Conclusions: These data suggest that allele 2 of the IL-1ra gene represents a susceptibility factor in the development of carotid atherosclerosis. Further investigation appears warranted.
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