OBJECTIVE: Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) benefit from tumor necrosis factor-α blocking treatment (anti-TNF), but about one third do not respond. The objective of this study was to replicate and extend previously found associations between anti-TNF treatment response and genetic variation in the TNF-, NF-κB- and pattern recognition receptor signalling pathways.
METHODS: Forty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), including 34 functional, in 28 genes involved in inflammatory pathways were assessed in 538 anti-TNF naive Danish RA patients with clinical data. Multivariable logistic regression analyses were performed to test associations between genotypes and treatment response at 3-6 months using the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criterion. American College of Rheumatology treatment response (ACR50) and relative change in 28-joint disease activity score (relDAS28) were used as secondary outcomes. Subgroup analyses were stratified according to smoking status, type of anti-TNF drug and IgM-Rheumatoid Factor (IgM-RF) status. False discovery rate (FDR) controlling was used to adjust for multiple testing.
RESULTS: Statistically significant associations with EULAR response were found for two SNPs in NLRP3(rs4612666) (OR (odds ratio) for good/moderate response = 0.64 (95% confidence interval: 0.44-0.95), p = 0.025, q = 0.95) and INFG(rs2430561) (OR = 0.40 (0.21-0.76), p = 0.005, q = 0.18) and among IgM-RF positive patients for TNFRS1A(rs4149570) (0.59 (0.36-0.98), p = 0.040, q = 0.76). Current smokers who carried the NLRP3(rs4612666) variant allele were less likely to benefit from anti-TNF treatment (OR = 0.24 (0.10-0.56), p = 0.001, q = 0.04).
CONCLUSIONS: In a population of Danish RA patients, we confirm the NLRP3 gene as associated with EULAR anti-TNF response as previously reported. The NLRP3 variant (T) allele is associated with lower treatment response, in particular among current smokers. Furthermore, we find that a functional polymorphism in the interferon-γ gene is associated with anti-TNF response. All findings should be tested by replication in independent validation cohorts and augmented by assessing cytokine levels and activities of the relevant gene products.