Vitamin D is known to exert immunomodulatory effects. An overrepresentation of the b allele of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) has been detected in autoimmune diseases as type-1-diabetes and multiple sclerosis. VDR polymorphisms have been shown to influence bone metabolism and bone density. The aim of the present study was to examine the distribution of VDR alleles in German rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients and their relation to bone turnover parameters.
62 German RA patients were included and compared to 40 controls. Three VDR alleles were examined (Bsm I, Taq I and Fok I). In addition, serum intact osteocalcin (OC), parathyroid hormone, bone specific alkaline phosphatase (B-ALP), the carboxyterminal extension peptide of type I procollagen, 25-OH-vitamin D and urinary deoxypyridinoline (DPD) excretion were measured. Furthermore, C-reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate and rheumatoid factor were measured.
We found a slightly higher frequency of the bB and tT-genotype in RA patients compared to controls, which was not statistically significant. OC and B-ALP were found to be significantly higher in RA patients with positive correlations between bone formation and resorption parameters indicating higher bone turnover in RA patients with maintained coupling. CRP in RA patients correlated with DPD and inversely with PTH. VDR genotype showed no association with bone turnover, family history or the presence of rheumatoid factor.
Our results suggest that VDR polymorphisms do not play a major role in RA predisposition in Germans.
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