Researchers have discovered that the IFTM3-rs12252CC genotype is significantly associated with influenza severity. The gene occurs in much higher levels in the Han Chinese population, compared with Caucasians, a fact that may place the Chinese at a higher risk for developing severe illness upon influenza infection, according to new research results.

Researchers noted that “It is not known whether those who are more severely infected with influenza virus are more likely to spread the infection.”

Study participants were recruited from Beijing You’an Hospital, Beijing, between June 2009 and January 2010. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral blood mononuclear cell using the PureGene DNA Isolation kit and the region encompassing the human IFITM3 rs12252 sequences were amplified by polymerase chain reaction.

They found the variant in 69% of Chinese patients with severe pandemic H1N1 in 2009; it was found in only 25% of those with a mild version of the infection.