Background: Gene polymorphisms of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin-6 (IL-6) and the chemokine receptor CX3CR1, have been found in association with cardiovascular disease in the general population. In dialysis patients, in whom the prevalence of cardiovascular comorbidity is strikingly high, these polymorphisms have not been investigated.
Methods: The -174G/C polymorphism of the IL-6 gene and the chemokine receptor CX3CR1 polymorphisms 249V/I and 280T/M were examined for their association with cardiovascular abnormalities in a cohort of 161 patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD) treated by hemodialysis. Arterial blood pressure, electrocardiogram (ECG) ischemic changes, and left ventricular mass index (LVMI) were the parameters examined for the association study. The control group was made up of 169 healthy subjects.
Results: We found that for both IL-6 and chemokine receptor, genotype frequency and allelic distribution in both ESRD patients and controls were comparable. The genetic association study showed that in the whole group of dialysis patients, individuals with GC + CC genotype for the -174G/C polymorphism had a higher diastolic blood pressure (P = 0.008) and LVMI (P = 0.026) than GG homozygotes. The prevalence of left ventricular hypertrophy (LVH) in the former group was 58.6% vs. 39.2% in the latter (P = 0.02). The same analysis limited to diabetic patients in dialysis, showed that the prevalence of LVH in those with CG + CC genotype was 87.5% vs. 36.3% in those with GG genotype (P = 0.02). In diabetic patients, lower levels of serum albumin was found in the GC + CC genotypic group than in GG subjects; 34.63 +/- 5.18 g/L vs. 41.75 +/- 4.79 g/L (P = 0.003).
Conclusion: These data demonstrate an association between the IL-6 promoter polymorphism -174G/C and high blood pressure and LVH in hemodialysis patients, especially those with diabetes. The results strengthen the hypothesis that chronic inflammation is a mechanism of cardiovascular damage in dialysis patients and the role played by the IL-6 system in this mechanism.