Polymorphisms in Genes of Respiratory Control and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

Int J Legal Med. 2015 Sep;129(5):977-84. doi: 10.1007/s00414-015-1232-0. Epub 2015 Jul 22.


Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) is a multifactorial syndrome and assumingly, among other mechanisms, a deficit in respiratory control leads to a failure of arousal and autoresuscitation when the child is challenged by a stressful homeostatic event, e.g., hypoxia. We hypothesize that genetic polymorphisms involved in respiratory control mediated in the medulla oblongata contribute to SIDS. Therefore, a total of 366 SIDS cases and 421 controls were genotyped for 48 SNPs in 41 candidate genes. Genotyping was performed using Fluidigm nanofluidic technology. Results were obtained for 356 SIDS and 406 controls and 38 SNPs. After correction for multiple testing, one SNP retained a nominally significant association with seasonal SIDS: rs1801030 in the phenol sulfotransferase 1A1 gene (subgroup: death occurring during summer). A borderline association could be also observed for rs563649 in the opioid receptor μ1 gene in a recessive model (subgroup: death occurring during autumn). As a conclusion, although these data suggest two SNPs to be associated with different subgroups of SIDS cases, none of them can fully explain the SIDS condition, consistent with its multifactorial etiology. Given the great complexity of respiratory control and our initial findings reported here, we believe it is worthwhile to further investigate genes involved in the respiratory system.

MeSH terms

  • Arylsulfotransferase / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / physiology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic*
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu / genetics
  • Respiratory Physiological Phenomena / genetics*
  • Sudden Infant Death / genetics*


  • OPRM1 protein, human
  • Receptors, Opioid, mu
  • Arylsulfotransferase
  • SULT1A1 protein, human