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PLoS One. 2013 Jul 25;8(7):e69080. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0069080. Print 2013.

Plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D and its genetic determinants in relation to incident myocardial infarction and stroke in the European prospective investigation into cancer and nutrition (EPIC)-Germany study.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg, Germany.


Circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) has been associated with cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in observational studies. Also, SNPs to explain variation in 25(OH)D have been identified by genome-wide association studies. Detection of direct associations between SNPs that significantly affect 25(OH)D and CVD risk would indicate a causal role of vitamin D, as reverse causation could be excluded and confounding could be better controlled. Thus, a combined analysis of candidate SNPs in relation to circulating 25(OH)D and CVD risk was carried out. A case-cohort study within the EPIC-Germany study was conducted comprising a randomly drawn subcohort of 2,132 subjects (57.9% women, mean age: 50.6 years) and incident cases of myocardial infarction (n=559) and stroke (n=471) that occurred during a mean follow-up duration of 7.6 years. 25(OH)D concentrations were measured by LC-MS/MS in baseline plasma samples. Additionally, eight candidate SNPs were assayed. Associations between 25(OH)D, SNPs and the risks of myocardial infarction and stroke were assessed by multivariable regression analyses. Mean 25(OH)D level was 47.2 nmol/L in the subcohort. Four SNPs were associated with 25(OH)D (p<0.05). In subjects with 25(OH)D levels <25 nmol/L, the risks of CVD as composite endpoint (Hazard Ratio: 1.53, 95% confidence interval: 1.12-2.09), myocardial infarction, and stroke were significantly increased compared to subjects with levels ≥ 50 nmol/L, while no significant linear associations were observed. A SNP score was not related to the risks of total CVD (Hazard Ratio: 1.0, 95% confidence interval: 0.71-1.42), myocardial infarction, or stroke. The same was true concerning single SNPs. Given the lack of association between SNPs and the risks of stroke and myocardial infarction, the present findings do not point to a major causal role of vitamin D in the development of these diseases. However, a detection of modest associations between genetic markers and CVD risk in larger consortia cannot be ruled out.

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