Interleukin 6 −174 G/C promoter gene polymorphism in centenarians: no evidence of association with human longevity or interaction with apolipoprotein E alleles

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The C allele at position −174 in the promoter of the interleukin 6 (IL-6) gene has been associated with reduced gene expression and reduced plasma levels of IL-6. Given that IL-6 tracks with functional disability and age-related diseases, there may be attrition or reduction in the frequency of the homozygous subjects, who produce higher IL-6 serum levels, in older survivors in a population. In fact, a marked reduction of the IL-6*G/*G genotype was recently demonstrated in male though not female Italian centenarians compared with younger age groups. First aim of the present study was to investigate whether there was evidence of an association among IL-6 −174 G/C promoter polymorphism and extreme longevity in a population of 81 centenarians compared with a control group of 122 middle-aged healthy subjects (mean age: 51±18 SD; range: 19–73 years), from Apulia (Southern Italy). Secondly, we also tested possible interaction of apolipoprotein E (APOE) alleles with the IL-6 −174 G/C promoter polymorphism in view of our recent findings for reduced APOE ε4 allele in centenarians. No differences have been found in the IL-6 −174 G/C promoter allele and genotype frequencies between centenarians and controls nor was there any observed interaction with APOE alleles that are also reputed to be linked to longevity. Regional genetic differences in conjunction with differing environmental factors may explain in part previous results suggesting a role of this polymorphism in longevity.

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