Background: Since mediators of inflammation are associated with insulin resistance, and the risk of developing diabetes mellitus and gestational diabetes, we hypothesized that genetic variation in members of the inflammatory gene pathway impact glucose levels and related phenotypes in pregnancy. We evaluated this hypothesis by testing for association between genetic variants in 31 inflammatory pathway genes in the Hyperglycemia and Adverse Pregnancy Outcome (HAPO) cohort, a large multiethnic multicenter study designed to address the impact of glycemia less than overt diabetes on pregnancy outcome.
Results: Fasting, 1-hour, and 2-hour glucose, fasting and 1-hour C-peptide, and HbA1c levels were measured in blood samples obtained from HAPO participants during an oral glucose tolerance test at 24-32 weeks gestation. We tested for association between 458 SNPs mapping to 31 genes in the inflammatory pathway and metabolic phenotypes in 3836 European ancestry and 1713 Thai pregnant women. The strongest evidence for association was observed with TNF alpha and HbA1c (rs1052248; 0.04% increase per allele C; p-value = 4.4×10(-5)), RETN and fasting plasma glucose (rs1423096; 0.7 mg/dl decrease per allele A; p-value = 1.1×10(-4)), IL8 and 1 hr plasma glucose (rs2886920; 2.6 mg/dl decrease per allele T; p-value = 1.3×10(-4)), ADIPOR2 and fasting C-peptide (rs2041139; 0.55 ug/L decrease per allele A; p-value = 1.4×10(-4)), LEPR and 1-hour C-peptide (rs1171278; 0.62 ug/L decrease per allele T; p-value = 2.4×10(-4)), and IL6 and 1-hour plasma glucose (rs6954897; -2.29 mg/dl decrease per allele G, p-value = 4.3×10(-4)).
Conclusions: Based on the genes surveyed in this study the inflammatory pathway is unlikely to have a strong impact on maternal metabolic phenotypes in pregnancy although variation in individual members of the pathway (e.g. RETN, IL8, ADIPOR2, LEPR, IL6, and TNF alpha,) may contribute to metabolic phenotypes in pregnant women.