Objective: We have previously described associations between an allele of the interleukin-1 receptor antagonist gene (IL1RN) and several inflammatory diseases. In this study we tested the IL1RN gene as a possible marker in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).
Methods: Eighty-one SLE patients and 261 ethnically matched control subjects were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction.
Results: We found an increase in both frequency and carriage rate of IL1RN*2 in the SLE group. This association strengthened with extensive disease and particularly with the presence of photosensitivity and discoid skin lesions.
Conclusion: We describe a novel association between IL1RN*2 and SLE. Carriage of the allele seems to influence severity rather than susceptibility to SLE. We postulate that the association of this polymorphism with disease severity is a widespread feature of common inflammatory and autoimmune diseases.