Objective: We recently showed, using a candidate gene approach in a case-control association study, that a 65-kb block encompassing tumor necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 1 (TRAF1) and C5 is strongly associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Compared with case-control association studies, family-based studies have the added advantage of controlling potential differences in population structure and are not likely to be hampered by variation in population allele frequencies, as is seen for many genetic polymorphisms, including the TRAF1/C5 locus. The aim of this study was to confirm this association in populations of European origin by using a family-based approach.
Methods: A total of 1,356 western European white individuals from 452 "trio" families were genotyped for the rs10818488 polymorphism, using the TaqMan allelic discrimination assay.
Results: We observed evidence for association, demonstrating departure from Mendel's law, with an overtransmission of the rs10818488 A allele (A = 55%; P = 0.036). By taking into consideration parental phenotypes, we also observed an increased A allele frequency in affected versus unaffected parents (A = 64%; combined P = 0.015). Individuals carrying the A allele had a 1.2-fold increased risk of developing RA (allelic odds ratio 1.24, 95% confidence interval 1.04-1.50).
Conclusion: Using a family-based study that is robust against population stratification, we provide evidence for the association of the TRAF1/C5 rs10818488 A allele and RA in populations of European descent, further substantiating our previous findings. Future functional studies should yield insight into the biologic relevance of this locus to the pathways involved in RA.