Polymorphisms in IL13 pathway genes in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


  • Edited by: Marc Humbert

B. Beghé, Department of Oncology, Haematology and Respiratory Diseases, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Via del Pozzo 71, 41100 Modena, Italy.


To cite this article: Beghé B, Hall IP, Parker SG, Moffatt MF, Wardlaw A, Connolly MJ, Fabbri LM, Ruse C, Sayers I. Polymorphisms in IL13 pathway genes in asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Allergy 2010; 65: 474–481.


Background:  Asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are chronic respiratory diseases involving an interaction between genetic and environmental factors. Interleukin-13 (IL13) has been suggested to have a role in both asthma and COPD. We investigated whether single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the IL13 pathway may contribute to the susceptibility and severity of asthma and COPD in adults.

Methods:  Twelve SNPs in IL13 pathway genes –IL4, IL13, IL4RA, IL13RA1, IL13RA2 and STAT6– were genotyped in subjects with asthma (n = 299) and in subjects with COPD or healthy smokers (n = 992). Genetic association was evaluated using genotype and allele models for asthma severity, atopy phenotypes and COPD susceptibility. Linear regression was used to determine the effects of polymorphism on baseline lung function (FEV1, FEV1/FVC).

Results:  In asthmatics, three IL13 SNPs – rs1881457(–1512), rs1800925(–1111) and rs20541(R130Q) – were associated with atopy risk. One SNP in IL4RA1 [rs1805010(I75V)] was associated with asthma severity, and several IL13 SNPs showed borderline significance. IL13 SNPs rs1881457(–1512) and rs1800925(–1111) were associated with better FEV1 and FEV1/FVC in asthmatics. IL13 SNPs rs2066960(intron 1), rs20541(R130Q) and rs1295685(exon 4) were associated with COPD risk and lower baseline lung function in the recessive model. In females, but not in males, rs2250747 of the IL13RA1 gene was associated with COPD and lower FEV1.

Conclusion:  These data suggest that IL13 SNPs (promoter and coding region) and, to a lesser extent, IL4RA SNPs may contribute to atopy and asthma. We also provide tentative evidence that IL13 SNPs in the coding region may be of significance in COPD susceptibility.