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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e47949. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0047949. Epub 2012 Oct 22.

Polymorphisms in inflammasome genes and risk of coal workers' pneumoconiosis in a Chinese population.

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Department of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, School of Public Health, Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.



Coal workers' pneumoconiosis (CWP), resulting from the inhalation of silica-containing coal mine dust, is characterized by fibrosing nodular lesions that eventually develop into progressive pulmonary fibrosis. Recently, it has been hypothesized that inflammasomes could have a crucial role in the host response to silica and recent studies show that the inflammasome contributes to inflammation and pulmonary fibrosis. NLRP3, CARD8 are components of the NLRP3 inflammasome, which triggers caspase 1-mediated IL-1β and IL-18 release. In the present study, we investigated whether common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in inflammasome genes are associated with CWP.


We performed an association study analyzing 3 NLRP3, 1 CARD8, 1 IL-1β, 2 IL-18 SNPs in a case-control study of 697 CWP and 694 controls. Genotyping was carried out by the TaqMan method.


The NLRP3 rs1539019 TT genotype was associated with a significantly increased risk of CWP (adjusted odds ratio (OR) = 1.39, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.07-1.81), compared with the GG/GT genotype, in particular among smokers (adjusted OR = 1.67, 95%CI = 1.15-2.42). In addition, the polymorphism was significantly associated with risk of CWP patients with stage I.


This is the first report showing an association between the NLRP3 rs1539019 polymorphism and CWP, and suggests that this polymorphism may confer increased risk for the development of the disease. Further studies are warranted to confirm our findings.

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