Interleukin-6 gene polymorphism, chronic stress and atherosclerosis: interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism, chronic stress and risk of early atherosclerosis in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study

J Psychosom Res. 2014 Apr;76(4):333-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.01.007. Epub 2014 Jan 28.


Objective: Interleukin-6 protein has been suggested as a mediator connecting chronic stress and cardiovascular diseases. We investigated whether the functional G174C polymorphism (rs1800795) of interleukin-6 gene is associated with vital exhaustion, a measure of chronic stress, or with preclinical atherosclerosis.

Methods: Associations between the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism, preclinical atherosclerosis, and vital exhaustion were examined in 1673 women and men aged 24-39years participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study. Vital exhaustion was measured using Maastricht Questionnaire. Preclinical atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-media thickness using ultrasound techniques. DNA was genotyped for the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795).

Results: The GG genotype of the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism was associated with higher vital exhaustion. Moreover, higher vital exhaustion was associated with greater intima-media thickness in men carrying G alleles, adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors.

Conclusion: Our findings support a role for the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism in increased risk of atherosclerosis in individuals with chronic stress. In addition, individuals carrying the G allele of the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism may be more prone to adverse effects of psychosocial stress.

Keywords: Atherosclerosis; Chronic stress; Gene polymorphism; Interleukin-6.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alleles*
  • Atherosclerosis / epidemiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / etiology*
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis / psychology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness
  • Chronic Disease
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-6 / genetics*
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology
  • Stress, Psychological / genetics


  • IL6 protein, human
  • Interleukin-6