Background: The incidence of type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) in Kuwait is amongst the highest in the world. Vitamin D is considered to be involved in immune modulation and its deficiency contribute to autoimmune destruction of insulin producing beta cells in T1DM patients. Vitamin D has been shown to exert its effects via a nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR) and therefore, VDR gene may be considered a candidate for T1DM susceptibility.
Methods: The genotypes of four VDR gene polymorphisms were determined in 253 Kuwaiti Arab T1DM patients and 214 healthy controls by PCR-RFLP analysis. Serum concentrations of three autoantibodies i.e. ICA (Islet cell autoantibody), GADA (Glutamic acid decarboxylase) and INS (Insulin autoantibody) were determined by radio-immunoassays.
Results: Statistically significant differences were detected between the genotypes of two VDR gene polymorphisms (FokI, C > T, rs10735810 and TaqI, C > T, rs731236) between T1DM patients and controls (P < 0.0001). In both, the frequency of variant alleles was considerably high in T1DM than in the controls. In contrast, the VDR gene ApaI (G > T, rs7975232) and BsmI (A > G, rs1544410) polymorphisms did not show association with T1DM. The homozygous variant genotypes of FokI, ApaI and TaqI polymorphisms show significant differences between various age-of-onset subgroups while no such association was detected in the case of BsmI polymorphism. Significant differences were also noted between heterozygous genotypes of all four polymorphisms especially between 4-6y and > 6y age-of-onset subgroups of T1DM patients. Three autoantibodies, ICA (Islet cell), GADA (glutamate decarboxylase) and INS (insulin) were positively associated to, varying degrees, with T1DM in Kuwaiti Arabs harboring different VDR gene polymorphism genotypes.
Conclusions: Our results demonstrate a significant effect of two VDR gene polymorphisms (FokI and TaqI) and three autoantibodies on genetic susceptibility of T1DM in Kuwaiti Arabs along with other factors.
Keywords: Autoantibody; Genotype; Kuwait; Polymorphism; Type 1 diabetes mellitus; Vitamin D receptor gene.