Genetic basis for variation in plasma IL-18 levels in persons with chronic hepatitis C virus and human immunodeficiency virus-1 infections

Academic Article


  • Inflammasomes are multi-protein complexes integrating pathogen-triggered signaling leading to the generation of pro-inflammatory cytokines including interleukin-18 (IL-18). Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections are associated with elevated IL-18, suggesting inflammasome activation. However, there is marked person-to-person variation in the inflammasome response to HCV and HIV. We hypothesized that host genetics may explain this variation. To test this, we analyzed the associations of plasma IL-18 levels and polymorphisms in 10 genes in the inflammasome cascade. About 1538 participants with active HIV and/or HCV infection in three ancestry groups are included. Samples were genotyped using the Illumina Omni 1-quad and Omni 2.5 arrays. Linear regression analyses were performed to test the association of variants with log IL-18 including HCV and HIV infection status, and HIV RNA in each ancestry group and then meta-analyzed. Eleven highly correlated single-nucleotide polymorphisms (r2 =0.98-1) in the IL-18-BCO2 region were significantly associated with log IL-18; each T allele of rs80011693 confers a decrease of 0.06 log pg ml-1 of IL-18 after adjusting for covariates (rs80011693; rs111311302 β=-0.06, P-value=2.7 × 10-4). In conclusion, genetic variation in IL-18 is associated with IL-18 production in response to HIV and HCV infection, and may explain variability in the inflammatory outcomes of chronic viral infections.
  • Published In

  • Genes and Immunity  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Vergara C; Thio C; Latanich R; Cox AL; Kirk GD; Mehta SH; Busch M; Murphy EL; Villacres MC; Peters MG
  • Start Page

  • 82
  • End Page

  • 87
  • Volume

  • 18
  • Issue

  • 2