Affordable Access

Access to the full text

Relationship of Soluble Interleukin-6 Receptors With Asthma: A Mendelian Randomization Study

  • Raita, Yoshihiko1
  • Zhu, Zhaozhong1
  • Camargo, Carlos A. Jr.1
  • Freishtat, Robert J.2, 3, 4
  • Ngo, Debby5
  • Liang, Liming6, 7
  • Hasegawa, Kohei1
  • 1 Department of Emergency Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA , (United States)
  • 2 Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's National Hospital, Washington, DC , (United States)
  • 3 Department of Pediatrics, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC , (United States)
  • 4 Department of Genomics and Precision Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC , (United States)
  • 5 Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Boston, MA , (United States)
  • 6 Program in Genetic Epidemiology and Statistical Genetics, Department of Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA , (United States)
  • 7 Department of Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA , (United States)
Published Article
Frontiers in Medicine
Frontiers Media SA
Publication Date
Apr 12, 2021
DOI: 10.3389/fmed.2021.665057
  • Medicine
  • Brief Research Report


Purpose: Emerging evidence suggests a potential role of interleukin-6 pathways—trans-signaling with soluble interleukin-6 receptors—in the asthma pathobiology. Despite the evidence for their associations with asthma, the causal role of soluble interleukin-6 receptors remains uncertain. We investigated the relations of soluble interleukin-6 receptors with asthma and its major phenotypes. Methods: We conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization study. As genetic instruments, we selected 33 independent cis-acting variants strongly associated with the level of plasma soluble interleukin-6 receptor in the INTERVAL study. To investigate the association of variants with asthma and its phenotypes, we used genome-wide association study data from the UK Biobank. We combined variant-specific causal estimates by the inverse-variance weighted method for each outcome. Results: Genetically-instrumented soluble interleukin-6 receptor level was associated with a significantly higher risk of overall asthma (OR per one standard deviation increment in inverse-rank normalized soluble interleukin-6 receptor level, 1.02; 95%CI, 1.01–1.03; P = 0.004). Sensitivity analyses demonstrated consistent results and indicated no directional pleiotropy—e.g., MR-Egger (OR, 1.03; 95%CI, 1.01–1.05; P = 0.002; Pintercept =0.37). In the stratified analysis, the significant association persisted across asthma phenotypes—e.g., childhood asthma (OR, 1.05; 95%CI, 1.02–1.08; P < 0.001) and obese asthma (OR, 1.02; 95%CI 1.01–1.03; P = 0.007). Sensitivity analysis using 16 variants selected with different thresholds also demonstrated significant associations with overall asthma and its phenotypes. Conclusion: Genetically-instrumented soluble interleukin-6 receptor level was causally associated with modestly but significantly higher risks of asthma and its phenotypes. Our observations support further investigations into identifying specific endotypes in which interleukin-6 pathways may play major roles.

Report this publication


Seen <100 times