Tests of linkage and/or association of genes for vitamin D receptor, osteocalcin, and parathyroid hormone with bone mineral density

J Bone Miner Res. 2002 Apr;17(4):678-86. doi: 10.1359/jbmr.2002.17.4.678.


Bone mineral density (BMD) is a major determinant of osteoporotic fractures (OFs). The heritability of BMD ranges from 50% to 90% in human populations. Extensive molecular genetic analyses have been performed through traditional linkage or association approaches to test and identify genes or genomic regions underlying BMD variation. The results, particularly those concerning the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene, have been inconsistent and controversial. In this study, we simultaneously test linkage and/or association of the genes for VDR, osteocalcin (also known as bone Gla protein [BGP]), and parathyroid hormone (PTH) with BMD in 630 subjects from 53 human pedigrees. Each of these pedigrees was ascertained through a proband with an extreme BMD value at the hip or spine (Z score < or = -1.28). For the raw BMD values, adjusting for significant covariate effects of age, sex, and weight, we performed tests for linkage alone, association alone, and then both linkage and association. For the spine BMD, at the two markers (ApaI and FokI) inside the VDR gene we found evidence for linkage (p < 0.05) and for both linkage and association by the transmission disequilibrium test (TDT; p < 0.05); association was detected (p < 0.07) with regular statistical testing by analyses of variance (ANOVA). In addition, significant results were found for association alone (p < 0.05), linkage alone (p = 0.0005), and for linkage and association (p = 0.0019) for the intragenic marker HindIII of the BGP gene for the hip BMD. Through testing for association, linkage, and linkage and association simultaneously, our data support the VDR gene as a quantitative trait locus (QTL) underlying spine BMD variation and the BGP gene as a QTL underlying hip BMD variation. However, our data do not support the PTH gene as a QTL underlying hip or spine BMD variation. This is the first study in the broad field of bone genetics that tests candidate genes as QTLs for BMD by testing simultaneously for association alone, for linkage alone, and for association and linkage (via the TDT).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Bone Density / genetics*
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific / genetics
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Linkage
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Osteocalcin / genetics*
  • Parathyroid Hormone / genetics*
  • Pedigree
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics*


  • Genetic Markers
  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Osteocalcin
  • endodeoxyribonuclease FokI
  • Deoxyribonucleases, Type II Site-Specific
  • GGGCCC-specific type II deoxyribonucleases
  • GTYRAC-specific type II deoxyribonucleases