Clinical & Experimental Allergy

A polymorphism in the coding region of interleukin-13 gene is associated with atopy but not asthma in Chinese children


T. F. Leung, Department of Paediatrics, 6/F, Clinical Sciences Building, Prince of Wales Hospital, Shatin, Hong Kong SAR, China. E-mail:


Background Interleukin (IL)-13 is an important cytokine secreted from type 2 helper T lymphocytes. It is essential for modulating IgE synthesis by human B cells. Previous studies showed that polymorphisms in the IL-13 gene were associated with serum total IgE or allergic asthma. The relationship of this marker with sensitization to individual aeroallergens has not been evaluated.

Objective We tested whether a polymorphism in the coding region of the IL-13 gene is associated with asthma and atopy in asthmatic children in Hong Kong.

Methods We used restriction fragment length polymorphism to detect R130Q genotype in Chinese children with asthma and control subjects. Serum total IgE was measured by microparticle immunoassay and specific IgE to common aeroallergens was measured using fluorescent enzyme immunoassay. Pulmonary function studies were performed using spirometry.

Results One hundred and fifty-seven patients and 54 control children were recruited. Their mean serum total IgE concentrations were 994 kIU/L and 473 kIU/L, respectively (P < 0.0001). Atopy as defined by ≥ 1 positive RAST was found in 141 patients and 32 control children. The GlnGln form of the R130Q polymorphism in the IL-13 gene was associated with serum total IgE (P = 0.005) as well as specific IgE to Der p 1 (P = 0.021), mixed cockroaches (P = 0.03) and dog (P = 0.003) but not with physician-diagnosed asthma (P = 0.621). In addition, the R130Q polymorphism did not correlate with subjective or objective indicators of asthma severity in our patients.

Conclusion Our results suggest that the R130Q polymorphism of the IL-13 gene is associated with elevated serum total and allergen-specific IgE but not asthma in Chinese children.