Racial disparity in spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) between African Americans and Caucasians in the US is unexplained, but is probably related to differences in amniotic fluid (AF) inflammatory cytokine profiles. Therefore, this study analyzed the association of 34 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in TNF-α and its receptor genes (TNFR1 and TNFR2) with AF TNF-α and soluble TNF receptor (R1 and R2) concentrations in PTB. Samples consisted of African American and Caucasian cases (PTB), and controls (term birth) for which both cytokine, and maternal and fetal genotype data were available. Analyses were performed with genotype, case, and maker-status interaction in the model for log transformed cytokine concentrations. In Caucasians, two interactions between genotype and pregnancy outcome associated with cytokine concentrations, whereas 14 gene variants in African Americans showed interactions with pregnancy outcome, and 13 showed association with genetic markers. In conclusion, cytokine concentrations in African American preterm births can be partially explained by interactions between pregnancy outcome, SNPs and infection. This does not appear to be the case in Caucasians. These findings may be important in understanding disparity in rates of PTB between the two populations.
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