Objective: The rare allele of a non-synonymous interleukin 23 receptor (IL23R) single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs11209026 (p.Arg381Gln) confers strong protection against Crohn disease (CD) and psoriasis. Other IL23R variants also exhibit association with CD, genetically independent of rs11209026. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), IL23 is an important determinant of the production of IL17A, a cytokine of consequence in inflammation and bone destruction. While there is no previous support for strong association of IL23R with RA, the possibility of a weaker role for IL23R variants in the aetiology of RA cannot be eliminated.
Methods: A New Zealand RA cohort was tested for association with six IL23R SNPs and the resulting data combined with a reanalysis of the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium data and a previously published Spanish data set. The combined data set totals over 3000 Caucasian cases and 3800 controls, which has sufficient power to detect a risk of as low as odds ratio (OR) = 1.2.
Results: Our data emphasise the lack of association of rs11209026 with RA (OR 1.01, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.88 to 1.16, p = 0.86). However there was some evidence for association of rs1343151 with RA (OR 1.14, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.22, p = <0.001).
Conclusions: While requiring further replication, these data further support a role for the IL17A/IL23 pathway in RA. Understanding how different variants of IL23R associate, at varying levels of strength, with contrasting groups of immune-mediated diseases (CD, psoriasis, ankylosing spondylitis, RA) will enhance knowledge on the aetiology of these diseases.
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Competing interests: None declared.
Funding: This work was supported by the Health Research Council of New Zealand and Arthritis New Zealand.
Ethics approval: Obtained.