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Effect of age, gender and calciotropic hormones on the relationship between vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms and bone mineral density



Hypovitaminosis D is a major public health problem worldwide and unexpectedly more so in sunny countries. Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene is associated with inter-individual variance in bone mineral density (BMD). Studies assessing the effect of VDR gene polymorphisms on BMD yielded conflicting results. The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between VDR polymorphisms and BMD in the Lebanese, across age groups and genders and to assess the effect of PTH and lean mass and vitamin D levels on such relationship.


In total, 203 subjects aged 65–85 years and 336 children aged 10–17 years. Polymorphisms in the VDR gene were assessed with the restriction enzymes BsmI, TaqI and ApaI. Bone mineral content, BMD and lean mass were measured using Dual-Energy X-ray Absorptiometry (DXA). The dominant hand strength was measured in children.


Heterozygote genotype was the most frequent in both age groups. There was no difference in the frequency distribution of genotypes between the young and the elderly. No relationship between VDR genotypes and lean mass was found in either age group. Heterozygote boys had the lowest parathormone (PTH) and heterozygote elderly women had the highest BMD at the spine and forearm.


In the Lebanese, the relationship between VDR polymorphisms and BMD differs by age. Survival does not seem to differ by VDR genotype. However, further studies are needed to assess the effect of VDR gene polymorphisms on mortality per se and time to mortality, not evaluated in this study.

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The elderly study was supported by a grant from the World Health Organization-Eastern Mediterranean Region Organization (WHO-EMRO), a grant from Sanofi-Aventis, and by institutional funds from the American University of Beirut and Saint Joseph University. The school study was supported in large part by an educational grant from the Nestle Foundation and a grant from Merck KGaA. We thank the study subjects for making the study possible, Mrs C Hajj-Chahine for running the PTH and vitamin D assays, and Ms S Mroueh for the densitometry measurements.

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Correspondence to A Arabi.

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Arabi, A., Mahfoud, Z., Zahed, L. et al. Effect of age, gender and calciotropic hormones on the relationship between vitamin D receptor gene polymorphisms and bone mineral density. Eur J Clin Nutr 64, 383–391 (2010).

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  • bone mineral density
  • gene polymorphisms
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin D receptor
  • survival

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