The gene coding for C-reactive protein (CRP) is located on chromosome 1q23.2, which falls within a linkage region thought to harbor a systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) susceptibility gene. Recently, two SNPs in the CRP gene (+838, +2043) have been shown to be associated with CRP levels and/or SLE risk in a British family-based cohort. The current study was done to confirm the reported association in an independent population-based case-control cohort, and also to investigate the impact of three additional CRP tagSNPs (-861, -390, +90) on SLE risk and serum CRP levels.
DNA from 337 white women who met the ACR criteria for definite (n = 324) or probable (n = 13) SLE and 448 white female healthy controls was genotyped for five CRP tagSNPs (-861, -390, +90, +838, +2043). Genotyping was performed using PCR-RFLP, pyrosequencing or TaqMan assays. Serum CRP levels were measured using ELISA. Association studies were performed using the χ2 distribution, Z-test, Fisher's exact test and ANOVA. Haplotype analysis was performed using EH software and haplo.stats package in R 2.1.2.
While none of the SNPs were found to be associated with SLE risk individually, there was an association with the five-SNP haplotypes (p<0.000001). Three SNPs (-861, -390, +90) were found to significantly influence serum CRP level in SLE cases, both independently and as haplotypes.
Our data suggests that unique haplotype combinations in the CRP gene may modify the risk of developing SLE and influence circulating CRP levels.