Background: Complex traits like cancer, diabetes, obesity or schizophrenia arise from an intricate interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Complex disorders often cluster in families without a clear-cut pattern of inheritance. Genomic wide association studies focus on the detection of tens or hundreds individual markers contributing to complex diseases. In order to test if a subset of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) from candidate genes are associated to a condition of interest in a particular individual or group of people, new techniques are needed. High-resolution melting (HRM) analysis is a new method in which polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and mutations scanning are carried out simultaneously in a closed tube, making the procedure fast, inexpensive and easy. Preterm birth (PTB) is considered a complex disease, where genetic and environmental factors interact to carry out the delivery of a newborn before 37 weeks of gestation. It is accepted that inflammation plays an important role in pregnancy and PTB.
Methods: Here, we used real time-PCR followed by HRM analysis to simultaneously identify several gene variations involved in inflammatory pathways on preterm labor. SNPs from TLR4, IL6, IL1 beta and IL12RB genes were analyzed in a case-control study. The results were confirmed either by sequencing or by PCR followed by restriction fragment length polymorphism.
Results: We were able to simultaneously recognize the variations of four genes with similar accuracy than other methods. In order to obtain non-overlapping melting temperatures, the key step in this strategy was primer design. Genotypic frequencies found for each SNP are in concordance with those previously described in similar populations. None of the studied SNPs were associated with PTB.
Conclusions: Several gene variations related to the same inflammatory pathway were screened through a new flexible, fast and non expensive method with the purpose of analyzing their association to PTB. It can easily be used for simultaneously analyze any set of SNPs, either as the first choice for new association studies or as a complement to large-scale genotyping analysis. Given that inflammatory pathway is in the base of several diseases, it is potentially useful to analyze a broad range of disorders.