Background Household contacts of diagnostically established tuberculosis (TB) patients are highly susceptible to disease development. It is surmised that cytokines perhaps play a synergistic and a prognostic role in the activation of the otherwise latent infection in these house hold contacts. Evaluation of the cytokines and any of their inherent polymorphisms might provide a useful diagnostic tool in evaluating the immune regulation and the progression of the disease. The cytokines thus released in a paracrine manner in serum may also provide an indirect measure of the cytokine function. Objective The present study was aimed to evaluate the levels of TNF-α, IL-10 & IL-6 cytokines and their correlation with genotype variants amongst tuberculosis patients and their household contacts. Methods The cytokine levels were estimated in serum by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and their polymorphisms were studied by amplification refractory mutation system polymerase chain reaction (ARMs PCR) in active pulmonary tuberculosis patients (APTB = 150), household contacts (HHC = 190), and healthy controls (HC = 150). Results The median values of TNF-α cytokine were significantly high among APTB and HHC compared to HCs (P< 0.0001 and 0.0001). IL-6 levels also were elevated among APTB compared to HHC and HC, and a significant difference was observed between APTB and HHC at P<0.0001; APTB & HC at P< 0.04; HHC & HC at P< 0.01. The IL-10 levels were low in APTB compared to HHC and HCs and no significant difference was observed. TNF-α/IL-10 ratio was significant and indicated Th1 predominance in APTB and HHC. IL-6/IL-10 showed pronounced Th1 expression in APTB and Th2 in HHC and HC. The ROC analysis indicated that both IL-10 and IL-6 can be used to decide the risk of exposed individual to a disease. The results of multivariate analysis indicate that IL-10 (-1082) GA genotype was significantly associated with p<0.028 in APTB. No significant association was observed between genotypes, other serum cytokine levels and clinical characteristics between APTB, HHC and HCs. Conclusion Large sample size with follow-up at different time points may further illuminate the role of IL-10 and IL-6 cytokines as a prognostic marker in house hold contacts.
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