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J Psychosom Res. 2014 Apr;76(4):333-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2014.01.007. Epub 2014 Jan 28.

Interleukin-6 gene polymorphism, chronic stress and atherosclerosis: interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism, chronic stress and risk of early atherosclerosis in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

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Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland; Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland. Electronic address:
Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Finland; Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland.
Research Centre of Applied and Preventive Cardiovascular Medicine, University of Turku, Finland; Department of Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine, Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland.
Department of Clinical Chemistry, Fimlab Laboratories, University of Tampere, School of Medicine, Tampere, Finland.



Interleukin-6 protein has been suggested as a mediator connecting chronic stress and cardiovascular diseases. We investigated whether the functional G174C polymorphism (rs1800795) of interleukin-6 gene is associated with vital exhaustion, a measure of chronic stress, or with preclinical atherosclerosis.


Associations between the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism, preclinical atherosclerosis, and vital exhaustion were examined in 1673 women and men aged 24-39years participating in the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns study. Vital exhaustion was measured using Maastricht Questionnaire. Preclinical atherosclerosis was assessed by carotid intima-media thickness using ultrasound techniques. DNA was genotyped for the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism (rs1800795).


The GG genotype of the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism was associated with higher vital exhaustion. Moreover, higher vital exhaustion was associated with greater intima-media thickness in men carrying G alleles, adjusted for cardiovascular risk factors.


Our findings support a role for the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism in increased risk of atherosclerosis in individuals with chronic stress. In addition, individuals carrying the G allele of the interleukin-6-174G>C polymorphism may be more prone to adverse effects of psychosocial stress.


Atherosclerosis; Chronic stress; Gene polymorphism; Interleukin-6

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