Maternal vitamin D receptor genetic variation contributes to infant birthweight among black mothers.
Racial disparity in pregnancy outcomes is one of the most striking and poorly understood inequalities in American health. Genetic variability may be an important host factor influencing disparate birth outcomes between non-Hispanic black (NHB) and non-Hispanic white (NHW) women. Race-specific allelic frequencies in the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene suggest its potential as a gene involved in health disparities. The Healthy Pregnancy, Healthy Baby Study is a prospective cohort of pregnant women aimed at identifying genetic, social, and environmental contributors to disparities in pregnancy outcomes in Durham, NC. VDR haplotype tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped via Taqman assays for 615 women. Analysis of variance was used to examine the association between maternal genotype and infant birthweight. Eight of 38 SNPs examined showed nominal significance among NHB women, with one VDR SNP (rs7975232) surpassing the multiple testing significance threshold. rs7975232, an anonymous polymorphism, is part of a VDR gene haplotype associated with variation in mRNA stability. mRNA stability can affect the amount of protein produced, thus directly affecting vitamin D levels and calcium homeostasis. In contrast to NHBs, there was no association between any VDR SNP and birthweight for NHWs. Genetic factors contributing to disparities in birth outcomes are not expected to be explained entirely by variation in a single gene. Nevertheless, our results suggest that maternal VDR gene polymorphisms do influence birthweight with differential effects accruing across racial groups. Further research identifying the functionality of VDR gene polymorphisms in pregnant women will improve our understanding of the underlying mechanisms influencing birthweight.
Swamy, GK; Garrett, ME; Miranda, ML; Ashley-Koch, AE
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