Vitamin D receptor allele combinations influence genetic susceptibility to type 1 diabetes in Germans.
Vitamin D has been shown to exert manifold immunomodulatory effects. Because type 1 diabetes is regarded to be immune-mediated and vitamin D prevents the development of diabetes in the NOD mouse, we investigated the role of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene as a candidate for type 1 diabetes susceptibility. A total of 152 Caucasian families with at least one affected offspring were genotyped for four VDR restriction-site polymorphisms (FokI, BsmI, ApaI, and TaqI). Whereas the BsmI, ApaI, and TaqI polymorphisms are in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other, no significant linkage disequilibrium with the FokI site was observed. Extended transmission disequilibrium testing (ETDT) was used to detect preferential transmission of allelic combinations to affected offspring. We found significant haplotype-wise ETDT results for the BsmI/ApaI/TaqI (chi2 = 18.886, df = 7, P = 0.0086), the BsmI/TaqI (chi2 = 8.373, df = 3, P = 0.0389), and theApaI/TaqI (chi2 = 17.182, df = 3, P = 0.0006) haplotypes. The "At" and "Bt" alleles confer an increased risk, whereas "AT" and "at" are protective. The combination with the strongest susceptibility was the "BAt" haplotype (64% transmitted, P = 0.0106). Analysis of the FokI site does not provide more information on susceptibility (FokI/BsmI/ApaI/TaqI [chi2 = 24.702, df = 15, P = 0.0541]). These findings suggest a linkage of VDR itself or a nearby gene with type 1 diabetes susceptibility in Germans, confirming respective observations previously made in Indian Asians.