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Am J Hum Genet. 2009 Feb;84(2):123-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ajhg.2008.12.019. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

Common variation in the beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase 1 gene affects circulating levels of carotenoids: a genome-wide association study.

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Longitudinal Studies Section, Clinical Research Branch, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, United States of America.


Low plasma levels of carotenoids and tocopherols are associated with increased risk of chronic disease and disability. Because dietary intake of these lipid-soluble antioxidant vitamins is only poorly correlated with plasma levels, we hypothesized that circulating carotenoids (vitamin A-related compounds) and tocopherols (vitamin E-related compounds) are affected by common genetic variation. By conducting a genome-wide association study in a sample of Italians (n = 1190), we identified novel common variants associated with circulating carotenoid levels and known lipid variants associated with alpha-tocopherol levels. Effects were replicated in the Women's Health and Aging Study (n = 615) and in the alpha-Tocopherol, beta-Carotene Cancer Prevention (ATBC) study (n = 2136). In meta-analyses including all three studies, the G allele at rs6564851, near the beta-carotene 15,15'-monooxygenase 1 (BCMO1) gene, was associated with higher beta-carotene (p = 1.6 x 10(-24)) and alpha-carotene (p = 0.0001) levels and lower lycopene (0.003), zeaxanthin (p = 1.3 x 10(-5)), and lutein (p = 7.3 x 10(-15)) levels, with effect sizes ranging from 0.10-0.28 SDs per allele. Interestingly, this genetic variant had no significant effect on plasma retinol (p > 0.05). The SNP rs12272004, in linkage disequilibrium with the S19W variant in the APOA5 gene, was associated with alpha-tocopherol (meta-analysis p = 7.8 x 10(-10)) levels, and this association was substantially weaker when we adjusted for triglyceride levels (p = 0.002). Our findings might shed light on the controversial relationship between lipid-soluble anti-oxidant nutrients and human health.

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