Recent studies suggest that low vitamin D-binding protein (VDBP aka group-specific complement or Gc) concentrations may be linked with inflammatory-mediated conditions, including asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and cancer. However, these studies may be confounded by substantial racial and ethnic or genetic differences. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that circulating VDBP concentrations are significantly associated with genetic ancestry. We used a validated high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry assay of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and its downstream metabolite 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. VDBP concentrations (milligrams per liter) were measured in duplicate using a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay among healthy African American (n = 56) and Caucasian American (n = 60) participants. Ancestry informative markers across the genome were used to estimate individual genetic ancestry proportions, designed to robustly distinguish between West African and European ancestry. Genotype-defined Gc isoforms were defined using rs7041 and rs4588 combination groups. VDBP concentration was correlated with both Gc isoform (r = 0.93, P < 0.001) and West African genetic ancestry (r = -0.66, P < 0.001). In the final model, Gc isoform, the catabolic ratio of serum vitamin D, oral contraceptive use, and body mass index remained significantly associated with VDBP concentration, after adjustment for genetic ancestry. Failure to adjust for Gc isoform may lead to spurious associations in studies of VDBP concentration and disease risk, particularly when the condition of interest may also be associated with genetic ancestry. The higher circulating VDBP concentrations and higher vitamin D catabolic rate among Caucasian Americans observed here appear to be consistent with lower bone mineral density and racial and ethnic differences in vitamin D-inducing cytokines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)667-676
Number of pages10
JournalTranslational Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Biochemistry, medical


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