Atherosclerosis is characterized by a prominent inflammatory component and C-reactive protein (CRP) has been implicated to modulate the complement activity in atherosclerotic arteries via complement factor H (CFH) binding. In this study, we examined whether the gene-gene interactions between CRP haplotypes and CFH Tyr402His functional polymorphism exerted an effect on early atherosclerosis. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in CFH (Tyr402His) and CRP (−717A > G, −286C > T > A, +1059G > C, +1444C > T and +1846G > A) were genotyped in the participants of the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study (n = 1698, aged 24–39 years). The CRP SNPs were further constructed into haplotypes and their interactive effects with the CFH Tyr402His polymorphism on the early atherogenic vascular changes [i.e. carotid artery compliance (CAC) and intima-media thickness (IMT)] were examined. After risk factor adjustment, a significant gene-gene interaction (P = 0·007) on CAC was observed between CRP haplotype ATGTG and CFH Tyr402His polymorphism in males. Furthermore, logistic regression analysis verified the risk-modifying interactive effect on CAC between these loci (OR 3·70, 95% CI 1·37–10·02, P = 0·010). No effects on CAC were observed in females and no effects on IMT were detected in either sex. We conclude that the combined presence of CRP haplotype ATGTG and CFH 402His allele may be disadvantageous to carotid artery elasticity in males
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