Evidence for an association of interferon gene variants with sudden infant death syndrome

Int J Legal Med. 2019 May;133(3):863-869. doi: 10.1007/s00414-018-1974-6. Epub 2019 Jan 8.


Background: There is evidence that inflammation plays a role in the etiology of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Immune system dysregulation seems to be the background of higher infection susceptibility in SIDS infants. This phenotype is possibly determined by genetic factors.

Methods: Twenty-three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the following 13 candidate genes governing the immune system were successfully genotyped in 251 Caucasian SIDS cases and 336 controls from Germany: ADAR1, CSF2RB, DDX58, IFNA1, IFNA21, IFNA8, IFNAR2, IFNG, IL6, MX2, OAS1, OAS3, and TNFA. Associations between genotypes and SIDS were then statistically evaluated using logistic regression analyses.

Results: Overall analysis revealed statistically significant results for two variants in interferon gamma (IFNG) (rs2069705: OR 1.40 (1.07; 1.83), p = 0.01; and rs2069727: OR 0.75 (0.59; 0.96), p = 0.02) and for one variant in interferon alpha 8 (IFNA8) (rs1330321: OR 1.85 (1.06; 3.21), p = 0.03). Haplotype analyses identified a three-marker risk IFNG haplotype rs2069727-rs2069718-rs2069705 associated with SIDS (OR = 1.62, 95% CI 1.23-2.13; p = 0.0003). Subgroup associations were found for variants in adenosine deaminase acting on RNA1 (ADAR1), 2',5'-oligoadenylate synthetase-1 (OAS1) and colony stimulating factor 2 receptor beta common subunit (CSF2RB).

Conclusion: In summary, this large study of 251 SIDS cases for common variants in 13 candidate genes governing the immune system has provided first evidence for a role of IFNG in the etiology of SIDS and should stimulate further research into the clinicopathological relevance of immunomodulatory genes for this fatal syndrome.

Keywords: Association study; Genetic predisposition; Infection; Interferon; Polymorphism; SIDS.

MeSH terms

  • 2',5'-Oligoadenylate Synthetase / genetics
  • Adenosine Deaminase / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cytokine Receptor Common beta Subunit / genetics
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Interferon-alpha / genetics
  • Interferon-gamma / genetics
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Sudden Infant Death / genetics*


  • CSF2RB protein, human
  • Cytokine Receptor Common beta Subunit
  • IFNA8 protein, human
  • IFNG protein, human
  • Interferon-alpha
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Interferon-gamma
  • OAS1 protein, human
  • 2',5'-Oligoadenylate Synthetase
  • ADAR protein, human
  • Adenosine Deaminase