Background: Cross-sectional studies have demonstrated that increased levels of interleukin-6 (IL6) are present in the airways and blood samples of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Objectives: To investigate the association between IL6 and the risk of COPD using a Mendelian randomization approach. Methods: Eight common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the region of the IL6 gene were genotyped using both TaqMan and Illumina in the Rotterdam Study, a prospective population-based cohort study consisting of 7,983 participants aged 55 years or older, including 928 COPD patients. At baseline, blood was drawn in a random sample of 714 subjects to measure the IL6 plasma level. Analysis of variance, logistic regression, and Cox proportional hazard models - adjusted for age, gender, pack years, and BMI - were used for analyses. Results: High levels of IL6 (>2.4 pg/ml, the highest tertile) were associated with a three-fold increased risk of developing COPD, in comparison to low levels (<1.4 pg/ml, the lowest tertile). The rs2056576 SNP was associated with a 10% increase in the risk of COPD per additional T allele. However, the association was no longer significant after adjustment. No association was found with other common SNPs in the IL6 gene and COPD. Conclusions: Although increased IL6 plasma levels at baseline are associated with the risk of developing COPD during follow-up, there was no strong evidence for an association between common variation in the IL6 gene and the risk of COPD. Copyright

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Respiration (English Edition)
Department of Medical Informatics

van Durme, Y. M. T. A., Lahousse, L., Verhamme, K., Stolk, L., Eijgelsheim, M., Loth, D., … Brusselle, G. (2011). Mendelian randomization study of interleukin-6 in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Respiration (English Edition), 82(6), 530–538. doi:10.1159/000332336