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Vitamin D genes and UVB vary massively across the Eastern Hemisphere – March 2020

Genes & Nutrition volume 15, Article number: 5 (2020) Cite this article
Patrice Jones, Mark Lucock, George Chaplin, Nina G. Jablonski, Martin Veysey, Christopher Scarlett & Emma Beckett

The frequency of vitamin D-associated gene variants appear to reflect changes in long-term ultraviolet B radiation (UVB) environment, indicating interactions exist between the primary determinant of vitamin D status, UVB exposure and genetic disposition. Such interactions could have health implications, where UVB could modulate the impact of vitamin D genetic variants identified as disease risk factors. However, the current understanding of how vitamin D variants differ between populations from disparate UVB environments is limited, with previous work examining a small pool of variants and restricted populations only.

Genotypic data for 46 variants within multiple vitamin D-related loci (DHCR7/NADSYN1, GC, CYP2R1, CYP11A1, CYP27A1, CYP24A1, VDR, RXRα and RXRγ) was collated from 60 sample sets (2633 subjects) with European, East Asian and Sub-Saharan African origin via the NCBI 1000 Genomes Browser and ALFRED (Allele Frequency Database), with the aim to examine for patterns in the distribution of vitamin D-associated variants across these geographic areas.

The frequency of all examined genetic variants differed between populations of European, East Asian and Sub-Saharan African ancestry. Changes in the distribution of variants in CYP2R1, CYP11A1, CYP24A1, RXRα and RXRγ genes between these populations are novel findings which have not been previously reported. The distribution of several variants reflected changes in the UVB environment of the population’s ancestry. However, multiple variants displayed population-specific patterns in frequency that appears not to relate to UVB changes.

The reported population differences in vitamin D-related variants provides insight into the extent by which activity of the vitamin D system can differ between cohorts due to genetic variance, with potential consequences for future dietary recommendations and disease outcomes.

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