Effects of IL1B single nucleotide polymorphisms on depressive and anxiety symptoms are determined by severity and type of life stress

David Kovacs, Nora Eszlari, Peter Petschner, Dorottya Pap, Szilvia Vas, Peter Kovacs, Xenia Gonda, Gabriella Juhasz, Gyorgy Bagdy

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Interleukin-1β is one of the main mediators in the cross-talk between the immune system and the central nervous system. Higher interleukin-1β levels are found in mood spectrum disorders, and the stress-induced expression rate of the interleukin-1β gene (IL1B) is altered by polymorphisms in the region. Therefore we examined the effects of rs16944 and rs1143643 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the IL1B gene on depressive and anxiety symptoms, as measured by the Brief Symptom Inventory, in a Hungarian population sample of 1053 persons. Distal and proximal environmental stress factors were also included in our analysis, namely childhood adversity and recent negative life-events. We found that rs16944 minor (A) allele specifically interacted with childhood adversity increasing depressive and anxiety symptoms, while rs1143643's minor (A) allele showed protective effect against depressive symptoms after recent life stress. The genetic main effects of the two SNPs were not significant in the main analysis, but the interaction effects remained significant after correction for multiple testing. In addition, the effect of rs16944 A allele was reversed in a subsample with low-exposure to life stress, suggesting a protective effect against depressive symptoms, in the post hoc analysis. In summary, both of the two IL1B SNPs showed specific environmental stressor-dependent effects on mood disorder symptoms. We also demonstrated that the presence of exposure to childhood adversity changed the direction of the rs16944 effect on depression phenotype. Therefore our results suggest that it is advisable to include environmental factors in genetic association studies when examining the effect of the IL1B gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)96-104
Number of pages9
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2016


  • Journal Article


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