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Mol Biol Rep. 2013 Jun;40(6):4009-14. doi: 10.1007/s11033-012-2479-x. Epub 2012 Dec 27.

Association of interleukin-18 gene variants with susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis in Iranian population.

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Department of Immunology, Fasa University of Medical Sciences, Fasa, Fars, Iran.


Host resistance to Leishmania infection is mediated by cellular immune responses leading to macrophage activation and parasite killing. Interleukin-18 (IL-18) known as interferon-γ (IFN-γ) inducing factor, stimulates IFN-γ production by T cells. Taking into account the important role of IL-18 in the defense against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) and the known effect of IL-18 gene polymorphisms on its production, the aim of this study was to investigate the probable relationship between IL-18 gene polymorphisms and the susceptibility to VL. The study groups included 118 pediatric patients who suffered from VL and 156 non-relative healthy people as the controls from the same endemic area. IL-18 gene polymorphisms at the positions -656 G/T, -137 G/C and +105A/C (codon 35/3) were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction-restricted fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). The results showed that the frequency of T allele at the position -656 was significantly higher in the controls, compared with that in the patients (P = 0.047), but it couldn't tolerate Bonferroni correction. Regarding the IL-18 genotypes, there was no significant difference between the patients and controls. Although the frequencies of ATG single haplotype and AGG/ATG double haplotype were significantly higher in the controls (P = 0.043) and the patients (P = 0.044), respectively, the two P values couldn't tolerate Bonferroni correction. Furthermore, a strong linkage disequilibrium was observed among the -656, -137 and +105 single nucleotide polymorphisms of IL-18 gene (all Ps < 0.001). In conclusion, this study suggests that the inheritance of T allele at the position -656 may be considered as a genetic factor for resistance to VL.

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