Clinical research characterizing the mechanisms responsible for sex-based outcome differences postinjury remain conflicting. We sought to characterize an X chromosome-linked IRAK-1 (IL-1 receptor-associated kinase) polymorphism as an alternative mechanism responsible for sex differences postinjury. IRAK-1 is key intermediate in the toll-like receptor (TLR) pathway thought to drive inflammation postinjury.
A prospective cohort study was performed over a 24-month period. Bluntly injured patients requiring intensive care unit admission were enrolled, whereas patients with isolated brain and spinal cord injuries were excluded. Outcomes of interest included multiple organ failure (MOF, Marshall MOD score > 5) and mortality. Logistic regression was utilized to determine the independent risk of poor outcome associated with the IRAK-1 variant after controlling for important differences.
In an enrolled cohort of 321 patients, the IRAK-1 variant was common (12.5%). Patients with and without the variant were similar in age, injury severity, and 24hr blood transfusion. After controlling for important confounders, the IRAK1 variant was independently associated with more than eightfold (OR = 8.4, P
= 0.005, 95% CI: 1.9–37.1) and 11-fold (OR = 11.8, P
= 0.037, 95% CI: 1.1–121) greater risk of MOF and mortality, respectively. These differences were most prominent in men, whereas women heterozygous for the variant demonstrated worse outcome in a dose-dependent fashion.
The IRAK1 polymorphism is a strong independent predictor of MOF and mortality postinjury and represents a common variant with prognostic potential. These data demonstrate the importance of TLR signaling postinjury and supports that a genetic mechanism may drive sex outcome differences postinjury.