Interleukin 18 (IL-18) is an important cytokine and involved in the pathogenesis and genetics of many diseases. The authors studied two different populations of preterm infants to test whether polymorphisms within IL-18 are in association with prematurity itself or with typical pulmonary disease or measurements seen in preterm infants, such as bronchopulmonary dysplasia, pneumothoraces and application of surfactant, inhalation or mechanical ventilation. Whereas the first population of 228 preterm infants showed strong association of IL-18 with preterm birth (p<0.001), this was not confirmed in the second population of 346 preterm infants. In addition, no association with any lung condition of prematurity was observed. The authors conclude that IL-18 does not play an important role in the genetics of preterm birth nor in the development of bronchopulmonary dysplasia and other lung complications in preterm infants. Caution must be taken in the interpretation of the results of genetic association studies performed in one population.
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