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Objective:The aims of the study were to examine the associations of plasma levels of five cytokines (interleukin (IL)-6, IL-5, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and IL-6 receptor (IL-6R)) and C reactive protein (CRP) with risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). Methods:In a case-control study of 931 CHD cases and 974 controls, logistic regression was used to estimate the OR and 95% CI of CHD for extreme thirds of biomarkers after adjustment for established risk factors. Sensitivity analyses were conducted in non-statin and in non-aspirin users. Results:Plasma levels of CRP were moderately correlated with IL-6 (r=0.45) in controls, but more weakly correlated with other cytokines. Likewise, all other cytokines were only weakly correlated with each other. After adjustment for established risk factors, the ORs (95% CI) for CHD comparing extreme thirds of cytokine levels (defined in controls) were 2.53 (1.86 to 3.43) for IL-6, 1.46 (1.11 to 1.93) for IL-5 and 1.46 (1.09 to 1.95) for IFN-γ, respectively. However, neither TNF-α, IL-6R nor CRP was significantly associated with CHD. After further adjustment for the associated cytokines, only IL-5 (1.34; 1.00 to 1.80) and IL-6 (2.39; 1.73 to 3.30) remained significantly associated with CHD. The risk associations of cytokines in non-users of statins or aspirin were comparable with the overall population. Conclusions:This study confirmed the importance of IL-6 as the most strongly associated cytokine with CHD risk, but also demonstrated novel and independent associations of IL-5 with CHD that warrant further investigation using larger panels of cytokines.

Original publication




Journal article


Open heart

Publication Date





Clinical Trial Service Unit and Epidemiological Studies Unit, Nuffield Department of Population Health, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK.