Sci Adv 7 (50) eabl4359 [2021-12-10; online 2021-12-08]
Many circulating proteins are associated with the presence or severity of disease. However, whether these protein biomarkers are causal for disease development is usually unknown. We investigated the causal effect of 21 well-known or exploratory protein biomarkers of inflammation on 18 inflammatory diseases using two-sample Mendelian randomization. We identified six proteins to have causal effects on any of 11 inflammatory diseases (FDR < 0.05, corresponding to P < 1.4 × 10–3). IL-12B protects against psoriasis and psoriatic arthropathy, LAP-TGF-β-1 protects against osteoarthritis, TWEAK protects against asthma, VEGF-A protects against ulcerative colitis, and LT-α protects against both type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. In contrast, IL-18R1 increases the risk of developing allergy, hay fever, and eczema. Most proteins showed protective effects against development of disease rather than increasing disease risk, which indicates that many disease-related biomarkers are expressed to protect from tissue damage. These proteins represent potential intervention points for disease prevention and treatment.