Background: Although cigarette smoking is a well-established risk factor for vascular disease, the genetic mechanisms that link cigarette smoking to an increased incidence of stroke are not well understood. Genetic variations within the genes of the inflammatory pathways are thought to partially mediate this risk. Here we evaluate the association of several inflammatory gene single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with ischemic stroke risk among young women, further stratified by current cigarette smoking status. Methods: A population-based case-control study of stroke among women aged 15-49 identified 224 cases of first ischemic stroke (47.3% African-American) and 211 age-comparable control subjects (43.1% African-American). Several inflammatory candidate gene SNPs chosen through literature review were genotyped in the study population and assessed for association with stroke and interaction with smoking status. Results: Of the 8 SNPs (across 6 genes) analyzed, only IL6 SNP rs2069832 (allele C, African-American frequency = 92%, Caucasian frequency = 55%) was found to be significantly associated with stroke using an additive model, and this was only among African-Americans (age-adjusted: OR = 2.2, 95% CI = 1.0-5.0, p = 0.049; risk factor adjusted: OR = 2.5, 95% CI = 1.0-6.5, p = 0.05). When stratified by smoking status, two SNPs demonstrated statistically significant gene-environment interactions. First, the T allele (frequency = 5%) of IL6 SNP rs2069830 was found to be protective among non-smokers (OR = 0.30, 95% CI = 0.11-.082, p = 0.02), but not among smokers (OR = 1.63, 95% CI = 0.48-5.58, p = 0.43); genotype by smoking interaction (p = 0.036). Second, the C allele (frequency = 39%) of CD14 SNP rs2569190 was found to increase risk among smokers (OR = 2.05, 95% CI = 1.09-3.86, p = 0.03), but not among non-smokers (OR = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.62-1.39, p = 0.72); genotype by smoking interaction (p = 0.039). Conclusion: This study demonstrates that inflammatory gene SNPs are associated with early-onset ischemic stroke among African-American women (IL6) and that cigarette smoking may modulate stroke risk through a gene-environment interaction (IL6 and CD14). Our finding replicates a prior study showing an interaction with smoking and the C allele of CD14 SNP rs2569190.
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