Introduction: Genome-wide association studies of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) have identified an association of the disease with a 6q23 region devoid of genes. TNFAIP3, an RA candidate gene, flanks this region, and polymorphisms in both the TNFAIP3 gene and the intergenic region are associated with systemic lupus erythematosus. We hypothesized that there is a similar association with RA, including polymorphisms in TNFAIP3 and the intergenic region.
Methods: To test this hypothesis, we selected tag-single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in both loci. They were analyzed in 1,651 patients with RA and 1,619 control individuals of Spanish ancestry.
Results: Weak evidence of association was found both in the 6q23 intergenic region and in the TNFAIP3 locus. The rs582757 SNP and a common haplotype in the TNFAIP3 locus exhibited association with RA. In the intergenic region, two SNPs were associated, namely rs609438 and rs13207033. The latter was only associated in patients with anti-citrullinated peptide antibodies. Overall, statistical association was best explained by the interdependent contribution of SNPs from the two loci TNFAIP3 and the 6q23 intergenic region.
Conclusions: Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that several RA genetic factors exist in the 6q23 region, including polymorphisms in the TNFAIP3 gene, like that previously described for systemic lupus erythematosus.