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Association between polymorphism of tumour necrosis factor α-308 gene promoter and asthma: a meta-analysis
  1. J Gao1,
  2. G Shan2,
  3. B Sun3,
  4. P J Thompson4,
  5. X Gao5
  1. 1Department of Respiratory Diseases, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100730, China
  2. 2Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Peking Union Medical College & Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing 100005, China
  3. 3Hypertension and Atherosclerosis Section, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02118, USA
  4. 4Asthma and Allergy Research Institute and Centre for Asthma, Allergy and Respiratory Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
  5. 5Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
    Dr J Gao
    Department of Respiratory Diseases, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, 1 Shuaifuyuan, Dongcheng District, Beijing 100730, China; gaojm{at}


Background: Asthma is a complex polygenic disease in which gene–environment interactions are important. The gene encoding tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) is one of several candidate loci for asthma pathogenesis and is highly polymorphic. A number of studies have investigated the polymorphism of TNFα-308 gene promoter (substitution G→A, designated as TNF1 and TNF2) in relation to asthma susceptibility in different populations. However, the results of individual studies have been inconsistent.

Methods: To address the inconsistent findings in studies of the association of the polymorphism of TNFα-308 gene promoter with susceptibility to asthma, a systematic review was undertaken of the published data and a meta-analysis was performed. The MEDLINE database was searched for case-control studies published in English language journals from 1966 to October 2005. Data were extracted using standardised forms and pooled odds ratios (ORs) with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were calculated.

Results: Fifteen eligible studies, comprising 2409 patients with asthma and 3266 controls, were included in the meta-analysis. Using the random effects model, the pooled result showed that the TNF2 allele is associated with overall susceptibility to asthma (OR 1.37, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.84, p = 0.04). The ORs for asthma susceptibility in TNF2 homozygote individuals were significantly increased at 2.01 (95% CI 1.26 to 3.20, p = 0.009) and 1.51 (95% CI 1.02 to 2.22, p = 0.041) compared with TNF1 homozygotes and TNF2/1 heterozygotes, respectively. In addition, the pooled OR for asthma risk in TNF2/1 heterozygotes was also significantly higher than that in TNF1/1 homozygotes (OR 1.47, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.13, p = 0.045).

Conclusions: The TNF2 allele confers a significant risk for developing asthma. A large scale case-control study is needed to clarify the functional effect of the polymorphism of the TNFα gene in the pathogenesis of asthma.

  • TNFα, tumour necrosis factor alpha
  • asthma
  • genetics
  • tumour necrosis factor
  • polymorphism
  • meta-analysis

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