Interleukin-6 promoter polymorphism interacts with pain and life stress influencing depression phenotypes

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

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Interleukin-6 (IL-6) has emerged as a potent biomarker for depression as its elevated plasma levels in patients with clinical depression have been confirmed by meta-analyses. Increased plasma IL-6 concentration was associated with various psychological stress factors and physical disorders accompanied by pain. Another modulator of the IL-6 level is rs1800795, a promoter polymorphism in the IL-6 gene which is able to influence its expression rate. Therefore, we examined in a Hungarian population sample of 1053 volunteers with European origins if rs1800795 polymorphism can affect depression symptoms measured by Zung Self-rating Depression Scale (ZSDS), and Brief Symptom Inventory (BSI). We also investigated the interactions of the polymorphism with reported painful physical conditions and Recent Negative Life Events (RLE) measured by the List of Life Threatening Experiences. Rs1800795 significantly interacted with both RLE and painful condition on depressive symptoms measured by ZSDS and BSI using different heritability models, while no main effects of the polymorphism were identified. After correction for multiple testing only the rs1800795 × RLE interaction effect (recessive model) remained significant on the BSI score, while both RLE and painful conditions significantly interacted on the ZSDS. In conclusion, the functional IL-6 rs1800795 polymorphism in interaction with various stress factors increases the risk of depression and has a greater impact on symptoms measured by the ZSDS. Thus, IL-6 and other cytokines may be more relevant in the development of somatic symptoms compared to affective signs of depression, delineating a specific genotype-phenotype relationship in this heterogeneous disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-8
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neural transmission
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • Journal Article


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