Vitamin D deficiency and/or reduced function, as per certain polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene, have been related to several autoimmune disorders. The present study was aimed to investigate the association of Hashimoto's thyroiditis with vitamin D status and functional polymorphisms (SNPs) of the VDR gene. In this case-control study, 200 euthyroid subjects were enrolled: 100 newly diagnosed HT patients (87 F, 13 M; mean age ± SD 42 ± 15 year) and 100 healthy individuals, matched for age, sex, BMI, and month of blood sampling. Serum 25(OH)D3 was measured by HPLC. The VDR SNPs BsmI, ApaI, and TaqI, in strong linkage disequilibrium with each other, were detected by restriction fragment length polymorphism-PCR. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in HT patients was significantly higher than that in the control group (70 vs 18.2 %; p < 0.0001), and median serum 25(OH)D3 level was significantly lower in HT patients than controls (median value: 16.2 vs 37.4 ng/ml; p = 0.026). Moreover, there was a significant inverse correlation between serum 25(OH)D3 and TPOAb concentration (r = -0.669; p = 0.034). Contrarily, the genotype distribution of the studied SNPs was not different in the two groups (BsmI p = 0.783; ApaI p = 0.512; TaqI p = 0.471), as was the allelic frequency [f(B) p = 0.776, f(b) p = 0.887; f(A) p = 0.999, f(a) p = 0.999; f(T) p = 0.617; f(t) p = 0.617]. The present study first investigates newly diagnosed untreated HT and suggests that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to HT development and/or progression, acting as an environmental trigger, while the VDR locus does not appear to be involved in conditioning the genetic susceptibility to the disease, at least in Caucasians.
Keywords: Autoimmunity; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; Single nucleotide polymorphisms; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor gene (VDR).