Cytokine SNPs: Comparison of allele frequencies by race and implications for future studies

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The role of inflammation is being considered in chronic diseases. Previous studies have examined SNPs in a few key inflammatory genes and have included small numbers of African American participants. Variation in the frequencies of inflammatory pathway SNPs may help to explain racial disparities in disease risk. Through a population-based study of 103 African American and 380 Caucasian unrelated, healthy women, we examined the relationships between race and allele frequencies of 70 cytokine and cytokine receptor SNPs. The associations between genotypic and haplotype frequencies and race were also analyzed. Allelic frequencies for 52 out of the 70 SNPs meeting criteria for analysis differed significantly by race. Of the 32 pro-inflammatory and 20 anti-inflammatory SNPs for which the allele frequencies varied significantly by race, variant allele frequency differences between Caucasians and African Americans ranged between 6–37% and 7–53% for pro-inflammatory SNPs and anti-inflammatory SNPs, respectively. Our findings suggest that while allele frequencies do vary by race, racial groups are not simplistically represented by a pro-inflammatory or anti-inflammatory genetic profile. Given the racial variability in allele frequencies in inflammatory gene SNPs, studies examining the association between these SNPs and disease should at least incorporate self-reported race in their analyses.

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