Department of Economics and Business Economics

Half the Genetic Variance in Vitamin D Concentration is Shared with Skin Colour and Sun Exposure Genes

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  • Brittany L Mitchell, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia. Brittany.mitchell@qimrberghofer.edu.au.
  • ,
  • Gu Zhu, Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.
  • ,
  • Sarah E Medland, Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.
  • ,
  • Miguel E Renteria, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.
  • ,
  • Darryl W Eyles, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Research, The Park Centre for Mental Health, Wacol, QLD, 4072, Australia.
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  • Katrina L Grasby, Department of Genetics and Computational Biology, QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, 300 Herston Road, Brisbane, QLD, 4006, Australia.
  • ,
  • John J McGrath
  • Nicholas G Martin, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.

This study assessed the heritability of 25 hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3) in a large twin cohort and the shared effect of sun exposure and skin colour on 25(OH)D3 variance. Study participants included 1604 twin pairs and their siblings (n = 4020). Twin correlations for 25(OH)D3 concentration were rMZ=0.79 (584 pairs) and rDZ = 0.52 (1020 pairs) consistent with an average h2 = 0.50 throughout the year. Significant phenotypic and genetic seasonal fluctuation was observed in 25(OH)D3 concentrations with heritability decreasing during the winter (h2 = 0.37) compared to summer (h2 = 0.62). Skin colour (measured both ordinally and quantitatively) and self-reported sun exposure were found to significantly affect 25(OH)D3 concentration. Twins with olive/dark skin had significantly lower 25(OH)D3 concentrations than those with fair/pale skin and multivariate genetic analysis showed that approximately half of the total additive genetic variation in 25(OH)D3 results from genes whose primary influence is on skin colour and sun exposure. Additionally, 37% of the total variance was attributed to shared environmental effects on vitamin D, skin colour and sun exposure measures. These results support a moderate estimate of vitamin D heritability and suggest significant influence of season, skin colour and sun exposure on the genetic variance.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavior Genetics
Volume49
Issue4
Pages (from-to)386-398
Number of pages13
ISSN0001-8244
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019

    Research areas

  • Genetics, Heritability, Skin colour, Sun exposure, Twin, Vitamin D

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