Association between tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha G-308A gene polymorphism and preeclampsia complicated by severe fetal growth restriction

Clin Chim Acta. 2008 Jun;392(1-2):52-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cca.2008.03.009. Epub 2008 Mar 18.


Background: Preeclampsia and HELLP (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count) syndrome are multifactorial disorders with genetic and environmental components. Given that the tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha G-308A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) affects TNF-alpha gene transcription and that preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome are characterized by a shift towards a Th1-type maternal immune response with increased TNF-alpha production, the aim of the current study was to investigate whether this SNP is associated with preeclampsia and HELLP syndrome in a Caucasian population from Hungary. Additionally, we aimed to examine whether TNF-alpha G-308A polymorphism can influence the risk for fetal growth restriction in preeclamptic patients, which issue none of the earlier studies dealt with.

Methods: In a case-control study, we analyzed blood samples from 140 preeclamptic patients, 69 patients with HELLP syndrome and 144 normotensive, healthy pregnant women using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method. We performed also a meta-analysis with our results and those of 8 previously published studies.

Results: There were no significant differences in the genotype and allele frequencies of the TNF-alpha G-308A polymorphism between preeclamptic patients and normotensive, healthy pregnant women. However, the mutant (TNF2 or A) allele occurred significantly more frequently in preeclamptic patients with IUGR than in those without IUGR (18.5% versus 7.1%, p=0.003). In addition, the frequency of the mutant allele carriers was significantly higher among preeclamptic patients with IUGR compared to those without IUGR (30.6% versus 12.8%, p=0.010). The mutant allele carriers were found to have an increased risk of severe IUGR-complicated preeclampsia, which was independent of maternal age, prepregnancy BMI and primiparity (odds ratio (OR): 2.89, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.16-7.22, p=0.023; adjusted OR: 2.78, 95% CI: 1.04-7.45, p=0.042). Nevertheless, no significant differences were detected in the genotype and allele frequencies of the TNF-alpha G-308A polymorphism between patients with HELLP syndrome and control subjects. In the meta-analysis, no association was observed between this SNP and preeclampsia (summary OR: 0.956, 95% CI: 0.693-1.319).

Conclusions: Although the meta-analysis demonstrated a lack of an overall association between TNF-alpha G-308A polymorphism and preeclampsia, our results suggest a role of this SNP in the risk of severe IUGR-complicated preeclampsia. However, further studies are required with a larger sample size to confirm our findings.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Fetal Growth Retardation / etiology*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • HELLP Syndrome / diagnosis
  • HELLP Syndrome / epidemiology
  • HELLP Syndrome / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hungary / epidemiology
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Pre-Eclampsia / diagnosis
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology
  • Pre-Eclampsia / genetics*
  • Pregnancy
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / genetics*


  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha