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Variants at the interleukin 6 receptor (IL6R) gene regulate inflammation and are associated with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). The aim of the present study was to investigate the effects of IL6R haplotypes on circulating levels of inflammatory biomarkers and risk of CHD. We performed a discovery analysis in SHEEP, a myocardial infarction (MI) case control study (n = 2,774) and replicated our results in two large, independent European populations, PROCARDIS, a CHD case control study (n = 7,998), and IMPROVE (n = 3,711) a prospective cardiovascular cohort study. Two major haplotype blocks (rs12083537A/G and rs4075015A/T--block 1; and rs8192282G/A, rs4553185T/C, rs8192284A/C, rs4240872T/C and rs7514452T/C--block 2) were identified in the IL6R gene. IL6R haplotype associations with C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, IL6, soluble IL6R (sIL6R), IL6, IL8 and TNF-α in SHEEP, CRP and fibrinogen in PROCARDIS and CRP in IMPROVE as well as association with risk of MI and CHD, were analyzed by THESIAS. Haplotypes in block 1 were associated neither with circulating inflammatory biomarkers nor with the MI/CHD risk. Haplotypes in block 2 were associated with circulating levels of CRP, in all three study populations, with fibrinogen in SHEEP and PROCARDIS, with IL8 and sIL6Rin SHEEP and with a modest, non significant, increase (7%) in MI/CHD risk in the three populations studied. Our results indicate that IL6R haplotypes regulate the circulating levels of inflammatory biomarkers. Lack of association with the risk of CHD may be explained by the combined effect of SNPs with opposite effect on the CHD risk, the sample size as well as by structural changes affecting sIL6R stability in the circulation.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Aged, Biomarkers, C-Reactive Protein, Case-Control Studies, Coronary Disease, Female, Fibrinogen, Haplotypes, Humans, Interleukin-8, Male, Middle Aged, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Receptors, Interleukin-6, Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha