IL1RN genetic variations and risk of IPF: a meta-analysis and mRNA expression study

Immunogenetics. 2012 May;64(5):371-7. doi: 10.1007/s00251-012-0604-6. Epub 2012 Feb 10.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a rare and devastating lung disease of unknown aetiology. Genetic variations in the IL1RN gene, encoding the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), have been associated with IPF susceptibility. Several studies investigated the variable number tandem repeat (VNTR) or single nucleotide polymorphisms rs408392, rs419598 and rs2637988, with variable results. The aim of this study was to elucidate the influence of polymorphisms in IL1RN on IPF susceptibility and mRNA expression. We performed a meta-analysis of the five case-control studies that investigated an IL1RN polymorphism in IPF in a Caucasian population. In addition, we investigated whether IL1RN mRNA expression was influenced by IL1RN polymorphisms. The VNTR, rs408392 and rs419598 were in tight linkage disequilibrium, with D' > 0.99. Furthermore, rs2637988 was in linkage disequilibrium with the VNTR (D' = 0.90). A haploblock of VNTR*2 and the minor alleles of rs408392and rs419598 was constructed. Meta-analysis revealed that this VNTR*2 haploblock is associated with IPF susceptibility both with an allelic model (odds ratio = 1.42, p = 0.002) and a carriership model (odds ratio = 1.60, p = 0.002). IL1RN mRNA expression was significantly influenced by rs2637988, with lower levels found in carriers of the (minor) GG genotype (p < 0.001). From this meta-analysis, we conclude that the VNTR*2 haploblock is associated with susceptibility to IPF. In addition, polymorphisms in IL1RN influence IL-1Ra mRNA expression, suggesting that lower levels of IL-1Ra predispose to developing IPF. Together these findings demonstrate that the cytokine IL-1Ra plays a role in IPF pathogenesis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / genetics*
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / immunology*
  • Immunogenetic Phenomena
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein / genetics*
  • Linkage Disequilibrium
  • Minisatellite Repeats
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • Risk Factors


  • DNA Primers
  • IL1RN protein, human
  • Interleukin 1 Receptor Antagonist Protein
  • RNA, Messenger