Association between dinucleotide repeat in non-coding region of interferon-gamma gene and susceptibility to, and severity of, rheumatoid arthritis

Lancet. 2000 Sep 2;356(9232):820-5. doi: 10.1016/s0140-6736(00)02657-x.


Background: Rheumatoid arthritis ranges from a mild, non-deforming arthropathy with little long-term disability to severe, incapacitating, deforming arthritis which may be refractory to conventional disease-modifying agents. Epidemiological studies show an important genetic influence in rheumatoid arthritis, and MHC region genes and cytokine genes within and outside this region have been considered as candidates. We did a case-control study to test whether polymorphisms in the interferon-gamma gene are associated with severity of rheumatoid arthritis.

Methods: Interferon gamma dinucleotide repeat polymorphisms were examined with quantitative genescan technology, and HLA-DR alleles were identified by PCR and restriction-fragment-length polymorphism analysis. We studied 60 patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis, 39 with mild disease, and 65 normal controls.

Findings: Susceptibility to, and severity of, rheumatoid arthritis were related to a microsatellite polymorphism within the first intron of the interferon-gamma gene. A 126 bp allele was seen in 44 (73%) of 60 patients with severe rheumatoid arthritis, compared with eight (21%) of 39 with mild disease (odds ratio 10.66 [95% CI 4.1-24.9]), and with eight (12%) of 65 normal controls (19.59 [7.7-49.9]). Conversely, a 122 bp allele at the same locus was found in four (7%) patients with severe disease compared with 25 (64%) of those with mild disease (0.04 [0.01-0.1]) and with 52 (80%) of controls (0.018 [0.005-0.06]).

Interpretation: This association may be valuable for understanding the mechanism of disease progression, for predicting the course of the disease, and for guiding therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / classification
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / genetics*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Dinucleotide Repeats / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Severity of Illness Index


  • Interferon-gamma