Interleukin-18 (IL-18), a proinflammatory cytokine, is elevated in patients with acute graft-versus-host disease (aGVHD). IL-18 induces Th1 differentiation and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte function, both of which have been implicated in the pathogenesis of aGVHD. However, recent studies have shown that neutralization of IL-18 by antibodies leads to an increased risk of aGVHD-related mortality while administration of IL-18 significantly improved survival. We have genotyped a cohort of 157 patient/donor pairs undergoing unrelated donor bone marrow transplantation (BMT) for three polymorphisms recently identified in the promoter of the IL-18 gene: G-137C, C-607A and G-656T. Using PHASE software, three main haplotypes were reconstructed: GCG, CAT and GAT. We found no association between the occurrence of aGVHD and patient/donor haplotypes. The presence of the GCG haplotype in patients was associated with significantly decreased risk of transplant-related mortality at 100 d (23% in patients with GCG vs. 48% in patients without GCG, P < 0.01) and at 1 year (36% vs. 65%, P < 0.01). The presence of the GCG haplotype in patients was also associated with improved survival (57% vs. 32%, P < 0.01). Cox regression analysis showed that the presence of the GCG haplotype was associated with a twofold increased probability of survival. These data suggest that the IL-18 promoter GCG haplotype may influence survival after unrelated donor BMT without altering the risk of aGVHD.
- Acute graft-versus-host disease
- Bone marrow transplantation
- Single nucleotide polymorphisms