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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Genetic variant in IL33 is associated with susceptibility to rheumatoid arthritis

Chun Li1, Rong Mu1*, Jianping Guo1, Xinyu Wu1, Xin Tu2, Xu Liu1, Fanlei Hu1, Shiwei Guo1, Jiaxin Zhu1, Huji Xu3 and Zhanguo Li1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Peking University People’s Hospital, 11 South Xizhimen Street, Beijing 100044, China

2 Key Laboratory of Molecular Biophysics of Ministry of Education, College of Life Science and Technology, Center for Human Genome Research, Cardio-X Institute, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China

3 Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Shanghai Changzheng Hospital, The Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200003, China

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Arthritis Research & Therapy 2014, 16:R105  doi:10.1186/ar4554

Published: 29 April 2014



Interleukin (IL)-33 is a proinflammatory cytokine contributing to the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The gene encoding IL-33 may serve as a genetic factor and be associated with the risk of RA. To investigate the potential association between IL33 and RA, we performed a case–control study based on Chinese Han population.


A three-stage case–control study was performed. Two tag single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs7044343 and rs10975514), mapping to the IL33 gene, were first genotyped in the discovery population. We further genotyped rs7044343 and rs10975514 in the validation and replication population. The associations between the two tag SNPs and phenotypic subgroups of RA and levels of serum IL-33 were assessed with a logistic regression model.


In the discovery population, the CC genotype of rs7044343 was associated with RA patients (odds ratio (OR) = 0.777, 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.611 to 0.988; P = 0.040). After anti-citrullinated peptide antibody (ACPA) stratification, the CC genotype of rs7044343 was also shown to be a protective genotype in RA without ACPA (OR = 0.610; 95% CI, 0.379 to 0.982; P = 0.042). In the validation population and replication population, the association between rs7044343 and RA, especially ACPA-negative RA, was still significant. A meta-analysis of discovery, validation, and replication panels confirmed the association between CC genotype of rs7044343 and RA (Pcombined = 0.0004; ORcombined = 0.77; 95% CI, 0.67 to 0.89). No evidence was found for heterogeneity between three sample sets (Phet = 0.99; I2 = 0%). Similar results were also obtained in ACPA-negative RA (Pcombined = 0.0002; ORcombined = 0.57; 95% CI, 0.43 to 0.77). No association was detected between rs10975514 polymorphism and RA susceptibility in the discovery and validation population. The serum levels of IL-33 were significantly lower in the patients with the rs7044343 CC genotype.


The CC genotype of rs7044343 in IL33 is associated with RA patients and downregulates IL-33 expression in RA.