Polymorphisms in tumor necrosis factor and other cytokines as risks for infectious diseases and the septic syndrome.
An increasing number of genetic association studies have implicated polymorphisms of cytokine genes as host genetic factors influencing susceptibility to infectious disease, primarily using a candidate gene approach based on knowledge of disease pathogenesis. The application and limitations of association studies are reviewed together with the impact of recent advances in single nucleotide polymorphism mapping on strategic approaches to defining genetic susceptibility loci. It often remains unclear whether associated genetic polymorphisms are themselves functionally relevant or acting only as markers within an extended haplotype, and experimental approaches to investigating the functional impact of polymorphisms in noncoding regulatory DNA sequences are discussed. An overview of genetic associations of cytokine genes with infectious disease is presented, together with discussion of recent studies in a number of infectious diseases including hepatitis, HIV, malaria, and sepsis.