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Carcinogenesis. 2009 May;30(5):758-62. doi: 10.1093/carcin/bgn286. Epub 2009 Jan 6.

Genetic polymorphisms in the cytokine genes and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in low-risk non-Asians of USA.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Epidemiology and Clinical Research, University of Minnesota, MMC 715, 420 Delaware Street S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA.


Polymorphisms in cytokine genes responsible for inflammatory and immune responses are associated with risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in high-risk Chinese population. Similar data in low-risk populations are lacking. A population-based case-control study of HCC was conducted including 120 HCC patients and 230 matched control subjects of non-Asian residents in Los Angeles County, California. Genetic variants in the interferon gamma (IFNgamma), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFalpha), interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-6, IL-10, IL-12 and IL-18 genes were determined by Taqman assays. The logistic regression method was used to analyze the data. For T helper (Th) 1 genes (IFNgamma, IL-6 and IL-12), relative to the putative high-activity genotypes, individual low-activity genotypes were associated with statistically non-significant increases in HCC risk. The odds ratio (OR) was 1.53 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.53-4.39] for three versus zero low-activity genotypes. For Th2 cytokines (IL-4 and IL-10), low- versus high-activity genotypes were associated with statistically non-significant decreases in HCC risk. The OR was 0.64 (95% CI = 0.27-1.55) for two versus zero low-activity genotypes. When the Th1 and Th2 genotypes were examined simultaneously, the highest level of risk was observed in individuals jointly possessing the highest number of low-activity Th1 genotypes and the lowest number of low-activity Th2 genotypes. There was a roughly doubling of risk between these two extreme genetic profiles, which did not reach statistical significance (OR = 1.98, 95% CI = 0.50-7.84, P = 0.08). In contrast to high-risk Chinese, Th1 and Th2 genotypes did not impact in a major way on risk of HCC in USA non-Asians.

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