Vitamin D is crucial for maintaining musculoskeletal health. Recently, vitamin D insufficiency has been linked to a number of extraskeletal disorders, including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. Determinants of circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH D) include sun exposure and dietary intake, but its high heritability suggests that genetic determinants may also play a role.
We performed a genome-wide association study of 25-OH D among ∼30,000 individuals of European descent from 15 cohorts. Five cohorts were designated as discovery cohorts (n=16,125), five as in silico replication cohorts (n=9,366), and five as de novo replication cohorts (n=8,378). Association results were combined using z-score-weighted meta-analysis. Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as 25-OH D <75 nmol/L or <50 nmol/L.
Variants at three loci reached genome-wide significance in the discovery cohorts, and were confirmed in the replication cohorts: 4p12 (overall P=1.9 × 10-109 for rs2282679, in GC); 11q12 (P=2.1 × 10-27 for rs12785878, near DHCR7); 11p15 (P=3.3 × 10-20 for rs10741657, near CYP2R1). Variants at an additional locus (20q13, CYP24A1) were genome-wide significant in the pooled sample (P=6.0 × 10-10 for rs6013897). A genotype score was constructed using the three confirmed variants. Those in the top quartile of genotype scores had 2- to 2.5-fold elevated odds of vitamin D insufficiency (P≤1 × 10-26).
Variants near genes involved in cholesterol synthesis (DHCR7), hydroxylation (CYP2R1, CYP24A1), and vitamin D transport (GC) influence vitamin D status. Genetic variation at these loci identifies individuals of European descent who have substantially elevated risk of vitamin D insufficiency.