BACKGROUND: Infections are frequent complications of hospitalization, particularly in the elderly. Pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines are essential components of the host response to pathogens and polymorphisms in their genes may contribute to inter-individual variations of the inflammatory response. The aim of this study was to investigate whether cytokine polymorphisms, separately or in combination, could be determining factors in the development of repeated nosocomial infections in elderly hospitalized patients.
METHODS: Tumor necrosis factor-α (-308) and (-238), interleukin-6 (-174) and (-6331), interleukin-10 (-1082) and (-592) polymorphisms were genotyped by PCR and hybridization with fluorescent-labeled probes in 245 hospitalized elderly patients (mean age 85.2 years; SD 6) and compared with those in 145 healthy adults.
RESULTS: The distribution of genotypes did not differ between elderly patients and control subjects. The presence of the interleukin-10 A(592) or A(1082) allele was more frequent individually and after adjustment for multiple comparisons in patients who suffered from several infections (p = 0.012, odds ratio = 5.3; 95 % confidence interval = 1.2-23.1).
CONCLUSION: Our data support a determinant role for interleukin-10 (-1082) polymorphism in the development of nosocomial infections.