Variable number of tandem repeat polymorphisms of the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist gene IL-1RN: A novel association with the athlete status

Sabina Cauci, Manuela Di Santolo, Kelli K. Ryckman, Scott M. Williams, Giuseppe Banfi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: The interleukin-1 (IL-1) family of cytokines is involved in the inflammatory and repair reactions of skeletal muscle during and after exercise. Specifically, plasma levels of the IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) increase dramatically after intense exercise, and accumulating evidence points to an effect of genetic polymorphisms on athletic phenotypes. Therefore, the IL-1 family cytokine genes are plausible candidate genes for athleticism. We explored whether IL-1 polymorphisms are associated with athlete status in European subjects.Methods: Genomic DNA was obtained from 205 (53 professional and 152 competitive non-professional) Italian athletes and 458 non-athlete controls. Two diallelic polymorphisms in the IL-1β gene (IL-1B) at -511 and +3954 positions, and a variable number tandem repeats (VNTR) in intron 2 of the IL-1ra gene (IL-1RN) were assessed.Results: We found a 2-fold higher frequency of the IL-1RN 1/2 genotype in athletes compared to non-athlete controls (OR = 1.93, 95% CI = 1.37-2.74, 41.0% vs. 26.4%), and a lower frequency of the 1/1 genotype (OR = 0.55, 95% CI = 0.40-0.77, 43.9% vs. 58.5%). Frequency of the IL-1RN 2/2 genotype did not differ between groups. No significant differences between athletes and controls were found for either -511 or +3954 IL-1B polymorphisms. However, the haplotype (-511)C-(+3954)T-(VNTR)2 was 3-fold more frequent in athletes than in non-athletes (OR = 3.02, 95% CI = 1.16-7.87). Interestingly, the IL-1RN 1/2 genotype was more frequent in professional than in non-professional athletes (OR = 1.92, 95% CI = 1.02-3.61, 52.8% vs. 36.8%).Conclusions: Our study found that variants at the IL-1ra gene associate with athletic status. This confirms the crucial role that cytokine IL-1ra plays in human physical exercise. The VNTR IL-1RN polymorphism may have implications for muscle health, performance, and/or recovery capacities. Further studies are needed to assess these specific issues. As VNTR IL-1RN polymorphism is implicated in several disease conditions, athlete status may constitute a confounding variable that will need to be accounted for when examining associations of this polymorphism with disease risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number29
JournalBMC Medical Genetics
Volume11
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 22 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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