Interferon-gamma and interleukin-6 gene polymorphisms associate with graft-versus-host disease in HLA-matched sibling bone marrow transplantation

Blood. 2001 Sep 1;98(5):1594-600. doi: 10.1182/blood.v98.5.1594.


Proinflammatory cytokines including interferon-gamma (IFNgamma), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha) are implicated in the pathogenesis of acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD). Cytokine gene polymorphism is associated with functional differences in cytokine regulation and altered clinical performance in a variety of diseases. Polymorphism in the IFNgammaIntron1 microsatellite (CA)n repeat has been linked with in vitro IFNgamma production and renal transplant rejection. The IL-6(-174)(G/C) single nucleotide polymorphism has been linked to in vitro and in vivo IL-6 production, juvenile chronic arthritis, and renal transplant rejection. This study examined the potential association of GVHD with IFNgamma and IL-6 polymorphisms in 80 sibling bone marrow transplant (BMT) donor/recipient pairs. Patients homozygous for the IFNgammaIntron1 allele 3 had more severe (grade III-IV) aGVHD. Patients possessing the IL-6(-174)G allele had a trend toward higher grades of aGVHD, and those homozygous for the IL-6(-174)G allele were more likely to develop chronic GVHD (cGVHD). The associations of previously identified aGVHD severity-associated cytokine gene polymorphisms (TNFd and IL-10(-1064)) with severe aGVHD were reconfirmed. Logistic regression analysis confirmed the association of severe aGVHD with recipient genotype at IFNgammaIntron1 (odds ratio [OR] 3.92; P =.02), IL-10(-1064) (OR 4.61; P =.026) and TNFd (OR 3.29; P =.039), and that of cGVHD with recipient IL-6(-174) genotype (OR 4.25; P =.007), in addition to age, gender mismatch, and underlying disease. Assessment of cytokine genotype may potentially allow more accurate prediction of GVHD and appropriate adjustment of GVHD prophylaxis, as well as indicating novel areas for future studies of GVHD pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Exons / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Graft vs Host Disease / epidemiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / etiology
  • Graft vs Host Disease / genetics*
  • Graft vs Host Disease / immunology
  • HLA Antigens / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Hematologic Neoplasms / therapy
  • Histocompatibility
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics*
  • Interferon-gamma / immunology
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics*
  • Interleukin-6 / immunology
  • Introns / genetics
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Nuclear Family
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Risk Factors
  • Tissue Donors
  • Treatment Outcome


  • HLA Antigens
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interferon-gamma