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      Association between cytokine gene polymorphisms and tuberculosis in a Chinese population in Shanghai: a case–control study

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          Polymorphisms in cytokine genes are known to influence cytokine levels, which may influence susceptibility to tuberculosis (TB) infection and disease. Differences in cytokine expression probably determine whether TB progresses, resolves, or becomes latent. In particular, the balance between the Th1 and Th2 cytokine responses influences the expression of disease in individuals with pulmonary TB (PTB). We performed a case–control study of 120 patients diagnosed with PTB, 240 with latent TB infection (LTBI), and 480 healthy controls (HC), to explore the association between polymorphisms in cytokine genes and a predisposition to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and TB disease.


          A single-gene analysis showed a dominant association between the AA genotype or A allele at nucleotide −874 of the interferon γ (IFN-γ) gene and LTBI. The A allele at nucleotide −1082 of the interleukin 10 (IL-10) gene was significantly more common in PTB patients than in LTBI subjects. Moreover, the polymorphisms at IFN-γ −874 and IL10 − 1082 were associated with protein levels of IFN-γ and IL-10, respectively, in the PTB group. The genotype frequencies of other polymorphisms did not differ between the PTB patients, LTBI and HC subjects. Furthermore, combinations of polymorphisms with IFN-γ −874 were associated with LTBI, whereas combinations with IL10 − 1082 were more likely associated with PTB.


          There are positive associations between the IFN-γ −874 polymorphism and TB and between the IL10 − 1082 polymorphism and LTBI. Our data provide genetic evidence of the multiple disease hypothesis that many cytokine genes are involved in TB susceptibility.

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          Most cited references 39

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          Infection of human macrophages and dendritic cells with Mycobacterium tuberculosis induces a differential cytokine gene expression that modulates T cell response.

          Macrophages and dendritic cells (DC) play an essential role in the initiation and maintenance of immune response to pathogens. To analyze early interactions between Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) and immune cells, human peripheral blood monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDC) were infected with Mtb. Both cells were found to internalize the mycobacteria, resulting in the activation of MDM and maturation of MDDC as reflected by enhanced expression of several surface Ags. After Mtb infection, the proinflammatory cytokines TNF-alpha, IL-1, and IL-6 were secreted mainly by MDM. As regards the production of IFN-gamma-inducing cytokines, IL-12 and IFN-alpha, was seen almost exclusively from infected MDDC, while IL-18 was secreted preferentially by macrophages. Moreover, Mtb-infected MDM also produce the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10. Because IL-10 is a potent inhibitor of IL-12 synthesis from activated human mononuclear cells, we assessed the inhibitory potential of this cytokine using soluble IL-10R. Neutralization of IL-10 restored IL-12 secretion from Mtb-infected MDM. In line with these findings, supernatants from Mtb-infected MDDC induced IFN-gamma production by T cells and enhanced IL-18R expression, whereas supernatants from MDM failed to do that. Neutralization of IFN-alpha, IL-12, and IL-18 activity in Mtb-infected MDDC supernatants by specific Abs suggested that IL-12 and, to a lesser extent, IFN-alpha and IL-18 play a significant role in enhancing IFN-gamma synthesis by T cells. During Mtb infection, macrophages and DC may have different roles: macrophages secrete proinflammatory cytokines and induce granulomatous inflammatory response, whereas DC are primarily involved in inducing antimycobacterial T cell immune response.
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            The role of cytokines in the initiation, expansion, and control of cellular immunity to tuberculosis.

            Tuberculosis (TB) results from an interaction between a potent immune response and a chronically persistent pathogen. The ability of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) to induce a strong immune response while being able to resist the ability of the host to clear bacteria provides an excellent tool with which to investigate the role of specific cytokine pathways on the induction, expansion, and control of the effector T-cell response. In this review, the role of interleukin-12p40 (IL-12p40), IL-12p70, IL-23, and IL-27 in the immune response to Mtb are described. We show that IL-12(p40)(2) acts to mediate the activation of dendritic cells to become responsive to homeostatic chemokines. We also show that IL-12p70 is required for the optimal interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) T-cell response, which is required for control of Mtb growth. IL-23 can induce IFN-gamma responses in the lung if IL-12 is not present, but its major role is in supporting the IL-17 response within the lung. Neither IL-23 nor IL-17 is required for early control of Mtb in the lung. IL-23 and IL-17, however, can be instrumental in vaccine-induced protection. Finally, IL-27 limits protective immunity in the lung, but it is also required for long-term survival. These cytokines are therefore key players in the immune response to TB.
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              The immunogenetics of human infectious diseases.

               G A Paganini (1997)
              Twin and adoptee studies have indicated that host genetic factors are major determinants of susceptibility to infectious disease in humans. Twin studies have also found high heritabilities for many humoral and cellular immune responses to pathogen antigens, with most of the genetic component mapping outside of the major histocompatibility complex. Candidate gene studies have implicated several immunogenetic polymorphisms in human infectious diseases. HLA variation has been associated with susceptibility or resistance to malaria, tuberculosis, leprosy, AIDS, and hepatitis virus persistence. Variation in the tumor necrosis factor gene promoter has also been associated with several infectious diseases. Chemokine receptor polymorphism affects both susceptibility ot HIV-1 infection and the rate of progression to AIDS. Inactivating mutations of the gamma-interferon receptor lead to increased susceptibility to typical mycobacteria and disseminated BCG infection in homozygous children. The active form of vitamin D has immunomodulatory effects, and allelic variants of the vitamin D receptor appear to be associated with differential susceptibility to several infectious diseases. NRAMP1, a macrophage gene identified by positional cloning of its murine homologue, has been implicated in susceptibility to tuberculosis in Africans. Whole genome linkage analysis of multi-case families is now being used to map and identify new loci affecting susceptibility to infectious diseases. It is likely that susceptibility to most microorganisms is determined by a large number of polymorphic genes, and identification of these should provide insights into protective and pathogenic mechanisms in infectious diseases.

                Author and article information

                BMC Immunol
                BMC Immunol
                BMC Immunology
                BioMed Central (London )
                22 February 2015
                22 February 2015
                : 16
                [ ]Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, Fudan University, 138 Yi Xue Yuan Road, Shanghai, 200032 China
                [ ]Key Laboratory of Public Health Safty (Fudan University), Ministry of Education, Shanghai, China
                © Hu et al.; licensee BioMed Central. 2015

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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                association, tuberculosis, polymorphism, cytokine, latent tuberculosis infection


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