Background: Only a minority of individuals infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis develop clinical tuberculosis. Genetic epidemiological evidence suggests that pulmonary tuberculosis has a strong human genetic component. Previous genetic findings in Mendelian predisposition to more severe mycobacterial infections, including by M. tuberculosis, underlined the importance of the interleukin 12 (IL-12)/interferon γ (IFN-γ) circuit in antimycobacterial immunity.
Methods: We conducted an association study in Morocco between pulmonary tuberculosis and a panel of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) covering 14 core IL-12/IFN-γ circuit genes. The analyses were performed in a discovery family-based sample followed by replication in a case-control population.
Results: Out of 228 SNPs tested in the family-based sample, 6 STAT4 SNPs were associated with pulmonary tuberculosis (P = .0013-.01). We replicated the same direction of association for 1 cluster of 3 SNPs encompassing the promoter region of STAT4. In the combined sample, the association was stronger among younger subjects (pulmonary tuberculosis onset <25 years) with an odds ratio of developing pulmonary tuberculosis at rs897200 for GG vs AG/AA subjects of 1.47 (1.06-2.04). Previous functional experiments showed that the G allele of rs897200 was associated with lower STAT4 expression.
Conclusions: Our present findings in a Moroccan population support an association of pulmonary tuberculosis with STAT4 promoter-region polymorphisms that may impact STAT4 expression.
Keywords: Behcet disease; IFN-γ; IL-12; STAT4; candidate pathway; common variant; eQTL; family-based study; genetic association; pulmonary tuberculosis.
© The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.