Objective: It has been suggested that polymorphisms in IL1 are correlated with severe and/or erosive rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but the implicated alleles have differed among studies. The aim of this study was to perform a broad and well-powered search for association between allelic polymorphism in IL1A and IL1B and the susceptibility to or severity of RA.
Methods: Key coding and regulatory regions in IL1A and IL1B were sequenced in 24 patients with RA, revealing 4 novel single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in IL1B. These and a comprehensive set of 24 SNPs tagging most of the underlying genetic diversity were genotyped in 3 independent RA case-control sample sets and 1 longitudinal RA cohort, totaling 3,561 patients and 3,062 control subjects.
Results: No fully significant associations were observed. Analysis of the discovery case-control sample sets indicated a potential association of IL1B promoter region SNPs with susceptibility to RA (for RA3/A, odds ratio [OR] 1.27, P = 0.0021) or with the incidence of radiographic erosions (for RA4/C, OR 1.56, P = 0.036), but these findings were not replicated in independent case-control samples. No association with rheumatoid factor, anti-cyclic citrullinated peptide, or the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints was found. None of the associations previously observed in other studies were replicated here.
Conclusion: In spite of a broad and highly powered study, we observed no robust, reproducible association between IL1A/B variants and the susceptibility to or severity of RA in white individuals of European descent. Our results provide evidence that, in the majority of cases, polymorphism in IL1A and IL1B is not a major contributor to genetic susceptibility to RA.