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J Bone Miner Res. 2001 Apr;16(4):758-64.

Genetic control of bone density and turnover: role of the collagen 1alpha1, estrogen receptor, and vitamin D receptor genes.

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  • 1Bone and Mineral Research Program, Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia.


Genetic factors are known to influence both the peak bone mass and probably the rate of change in bone density. A range of regulatory and structural genes has been proposed to be involved including collagen 1alpha (COL1A1), the estrogen receptor (ER), and the vitamin D receptor (VDR), but the actual genes involved are uncertain. We therefore studied the role of the COL1A1 and VDR loci in control of bone density by linkage in 45 dizygotic twin pairs and 29 nuclear families comprising 120 individuals. The influences on bone density of polymorphisms of COL1A1, VDR, and ER were studied by association both cross-sectionally and longitudinally in 193 elderly postmenopausal women (average age, 69 years) over a mean follow-up time of 6.3 years. Weak linkage of the COL1A1 locus with bone density was observed in both twins and families (p = 0.02 in both data sets), confirming previous observations of linkage of this locus with bone density. Association between the MscI polymorphism of COL1A1 and rate of lumbar spine bone loss was observed with significant gene-environment interaction related to dietary calcium intake (p = 0.0006). In the lowest tertile of dietary calcium intake, carriers of "s" alleles lost more bone than "SS" homozygotes (p = 0.01), whereas the opposite was observed in the highest dietary calcium intake (p = 0.003). Association also was observed between rate of bone loss at both the femoral neck and the lumbar spine and the TaqI VDR polymorphism (p = 0.03). This association was strongest in those in the lowest tertile of calcium intake, also suggesting the presence of gene-environment interaction involving dietary calcium and VDR, influencing bone turnover. No significant association was observed between the PvuII ER polymorphism alone or in combination with VDR or COL1A1 genotypes, with either bone density or its rate of change. These data support the involvement of COL1A1 in determination of bone density and the interaction of both COL1A1 and VDR with calcium intake in regulation of change of bone density over time.

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