Interleukin-18 promoter polymorphism associates with the occurrence of sudden cardiac death among Caucasian males: the Helsinki Sudden Death Study

Atherosclerosis. 2008 Feb;196(2):643-9. doi: 10.1016/j.atherosclerosis.2007.07.018. Epub 2007 Aug 31.


Objective: The increased plasma concentrations of pro-atherogenic and cardiomyocyte hypertrophic cytokine interleukin 18 (IL-18) predict mortality in patients with coronary heart disease (CHD) in addition to predicting the outcome of heart failure. The IL-18 gene has a functional -137G/C polymorphism (rs187238) in the promoter region. The C allele carriage is associated with attenuated IL-18 production. The effect of IL-18 genotype on SCD is unknown. We studied the association of the IL-18 gene -137G/C polymorphism with the occurrence of sudden cardiac death (SCD).

Methods: Using the TaqMan 5' nuclease assay, we genotyped two independent consecutive and prospective autopsy series which were included in the Helsinki Sudden Death Study.

Results: Of the 663 men, 359 (54.1%) had the wild-type GG-genotype, 261 (39.4%) were heterozygotes (CG) and 43 (6.5%) were CC homozygotes. Compared to the GG homozygotes, the C allele carriers (i.e. subjects having CC or CG genotypes) had a lower adjusted risk for SCD from any cause (odds ratio [OR] 0.49; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.31-0.77, p=0.002), for SCD due to CHD (OR 0.51; 95% CI, 0.32-0.82, p=0.005), and for SCD caused by non-coronary heart diseases (OR 0.34; 95% CI 0.13-0.90, p=0.030).

Conclusion: IL-18 promoter -137G/C polymorphism, which regulates the expression of IL-18, is an important predictor of SCD from any cause as well as SCD in patients with and without underlying CHD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autopsy
  • Coronary Disease / genetics*
  • Coronary Disease / mortality
  • Death, Sudden, Cardiac / etiology*
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Gene Frequency
  • Heterozygote
  • Homozygote
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-18 / genetics*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • Risk Factors


  • Interleukin-18