Evidence for a genetic interaction in allergy-related responsiveness to vitamin D deficiency

Allergy. 2012 Aug;67(8):1033-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1398-9995.2012.02856.x. Epub 2012 Jun 12.


Background: The hormonal form of vitamin D affects both adaptive and innate immune functions involved in the development of allergies. Certain genotypes have been seen to alter the association between vitamin D deficiency (VDD) and the risk of food sensitization in children.

Methods: We examined 27 functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in/near selected candidate genes for association with total immunoglobulin E (IgE) and effect modification by 25-hydroxyvitamin D in the 1958 British birth cohort (aged 45 years, n = 4921). A cut-off value of 50 nmol/L was used to define VDD.

Results: Four SNPs (in FCER1A, IL13, and CYP24A1) and three SNPs (in IL4 and CYP24A1) were associated with total IgE and specific IgE, respectively, after correction for multiple testing. As in a previous study, MS4A2 (rs512555, P(interaction) = 0.04) and IL4 (rs2243250, P(interaction) = 0.02), and their composite score (P(interaction) = 0.009) modified the association between VDD and allergy-related outcome. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher total IgE only in the carriers of the 'C' allele (IL4), which is present in 86% of white Europeans, while only 26% of Chinese and <20% of some African populations are carriers.

Conclusions: Our study on white European adults was consistent with a previous study on children from largely non-white ethnic groups, suggesting that IL4 and MS4A2 genotypes modify the association between VDD and allergy risk. The risk allele in IL4 is present in nearly 90% of white Europeans, while less than a quarter are carriers in some other populations, highlighting the need to consider possible ethnic differences in allergy-related responsiveness to VDD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / genetics*
  • Immunoglobulin E / blood
  • Immunoglobulin E / immunology
  • Interleukin-4 / genetics
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Receptors, IgE / genetics
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / genetics
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / genetics*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology*
  • Vitamin D3 24-Hydroxylase


  • MS4A2 protein, human
  • Receptors, IgE
  • Vitamin D
  • Interleukin-4
  • Immunoglobulin E
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • CYP24A1 protein, human
  • Vitamin D3 24-Hydroxylase