Background Inflammation has been proposed as a hallmark in the pathophysiology of stroke. A functional polymorphism in the interleukin (IL)-6 gene at position-174, encoding for the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-6, is associated with an increased risk of neonatal brain injury or development of cerebral palsy. The aim was to study whether the IL-6-174 G/C polymorphism increased the risk of perinatal arterial ischaemic stroke (PAIS) or subsequent adverse sequelae.
Methods Infants born at or above 37 weeks gestation with PAIS diagnosed by neonatal MRI (n = 63) were included. Genotyping of the IL-6-174 G/C polymorphism was performed and compared to 1008 random population controls. Perinatal variables of case infants were reviewed.
Results There were no differences in IL-6-174 genotype between infants with PAIS and population controls. In a multivariable analysis, independent risk factors for adverse outcome after PAIS in a middle cerebral artery territory included CG genotype (OR 5.9; 95% CI 1.02–33.9) and male sex (OR 4.2; 95% CI 1.04–17.2).
Conclusion The distribution of the IL-6-174 C >G promotor polymorphism did not differ between infants with PAIS and population controls and therefore do not seem to play a role in stroke risk. However, the IL-6-174 GC genotype was more common among infants who had an adverse outcome following PAIS in the middle cerebral artery territory, suggesting that the level of inflammation does play a role in outcome after PAIS. This may be relevant for neuroprotective strategies.