Tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α) is one of the most typical pro-inflammatory cytokines with both beneficial and destructive properties for the central nervous system. Increasing evidences have demonstrated the important role of TNF-α in the development of ischemic stroke, but studies examining the possible association with stroke or direct functional effects of polymorphisms in TNF-α have been contradictory.
In this study, a 2-kb length of the proximal promoter of the TNF-α was screened and four polymorphisms were investigated in the case–control study. Our data confirmed the association between -308G/A variant with stroke in 1,388 stroke patients and 1,027 controls and replicated in an independent population of 961 stroke patients and 821 controls (odds ratio (OR) = 1.34, 95% confidence interval (CI) =1.02 to 1.77 and OR = 1.56, 95% CI = 1.09 to 2.23, respectively). To reconcile the association between polymorphisms and stroke and to give a comprehensive picture of the genetic architecture of this important gene, we performed a meta-analysis of 15 published studies in an Asian population. Our results demonstrated an association between rs1800629 and ischemic stroke (OR = 1.43, 95% CI = 1.21 to 1.69). Another meta-analysis results of 14 studies demonstrated that ischemic stroke patients have higher serum TNF-α level than the control subjects (standardized mean difference (SMD) = 2.33, 95% CI = 1.85 to 2.81). In vitro evaluation of potential interaction between variants of the TNF-α gene (−308G/A, -857C/T, and -1031T/C) demonstrated that these three polymorphisms could interact together to determine the overall activity of the TNF-α gene.