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J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2016 May;101(5):2226-34. doi: 10.1210/jc.2016-1104. Epub 2016 Mar 23.

Free 25-Hydroxyvitamin D: Impact of Vitamin D Binding Protein Assays on Racial-Genotypic Associations.

Author information

Bone & Mineral Unit (C.M.N., Y.W., C.M.S., E.S.O.), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239; School of Public Health (C.M.N., J.L.), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239; Medical Research Council Human Nutrition Research (K.S.J., A.P., I.S.), Cambridge, UK CB1 9NL; Department of Orthopedics (R.F.C.), University of California, Los Angeles, California 90095; Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (J.M.J., R.D.S., T.S., Y.G., A.A.S.), Richland, Washington 99354; Institute of Metabolism and Systems Research (M.H.), University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK B15 2TT; University of California (J.S.A.), Los Angeles, California 90095; School of Medicine (C.M.S., C.G.L., E.S.O.), Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239; Portland Veterans Affairs Medical Center (C.G.L.), Oregon 97239; Laboratory of Diagnostic Medicine (D.V.), KU Leuven, 3000 Belgium; Laboratory of Clinical and Experimental Endocrinology (D.V., R.B.), KU Leuven, 3000 Belgium; Department of Cardiovascular Sciences (S.P.), KU Leuven, Belgium 3000; Department of Laboratory Medicine (S.P.), University Hospitals Leuven, 3000 Belgium; MRC Keneba (A.P.), Keneba, The Gambia; and Department of Epidemiology (J.M.Z., J.A.C.), University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15261.



Total 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) is a marker of vitamin D status and is lower in African Americans than in whites. Whether this difference holds for free 25OHOD (f25OHD) is unclear, considering reported genetic-racial differences in vitamin D binding protein (DBP) used to calculate f25OHD.


Our objective was to assess racial-geographic differences in f25OHD and to understand inconsistencies in racial associations with DBP and calculated f25OHD.


This study used a cross-sectional design.


The general community in the United States, United Kingdom, and The Gambia were included in this study.


Men in Osteoporotic Fractures in Men and Medical Research Council studies (N = 1057) were included.


Total 25OHD concentration, race, and DBP (GC) genotype exposures were included.


Directly measured f25OHD, DBP assessed by proteomics, monoclonal and polyclonal immunoassays, and calculated f25OHD were the outcome measures.


Total 25OHD correlated strongly with directly measured f25OHD (Spearman r = 0.84). Measured by monoclonal assay, mean DBP in African-ancestry subjects was approximately 50% lower than in whites, whereas DBP measured by polyclonal DBP antibodies or proteomic methods was not lower in African-ancestry. Calculated f25OHD (using polyclonal DBP assays) correlated strongly with directly measured f25OHD (r = 0.80-0.83). Free 25OHD, measured or calculated from polyclonal DBP assays, reflected total 25OHD concentration irrespective of race and was lower in African Americans than in US whites.


Previously reported racial differences in DBP concentration are likely from monoclonal assay bias, as there was no racial difference in DBP concentration by other methods. This confirms the poor vitamin D status of many African-Americans and the utility of total 25OHD in assessing vitamin D in the general population.

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