Vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D receptor FokI polymorphism as risk factors for COVID-19

Pediatr Res. 2022 Sep 9;1-8. doi: 10.1038/s41390-022-02275-6. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

Background: Given the sparse data on vitamin D status in pediatric COVID-19, we investigated whether vitamin D deficiency could be a risk factor for susceptibility to COVID-19 in Egyptian children and adolescents. We also investigated whether vitamin D receptor (VDR) FokI polymorphism could be a genetic marker for COVID-19 susceptibility.

Methods: One hundred and eighty patients diagnosed to have COVID-19 and 200 matched control children and adolescents were recruited. Patients were laboratory confirmed as SARS-CoV-2 positive by real-time RT-PCR. All participants were genotyped for VDR Fok1 polymorphism by RT-PCR. Vitamin D status was defined as sufficient for serum 25(OH) D at least 30 ng/mL, insufficient at 21-29 ng/mL, deficient at <20 ng/mL.

Results: Ninety-four patients (52%) had low vitamin D levels with 74 (41%) being deficient and 20 (11%) had vitamin D insufficiency. Vitamin D deficiency was associated with 2.6-fold increased risk for COVID-19 (OR = 2.6; [95% CI 1.96-4.9]; P = 0.002. The FokI FF genotype was significantly more represented in patients compared to control group (OR = 4.05; [95% CI: 1.95-8.55]; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency and VDR Fok I polymorphism may constitute independent risk factors for susceptibility to COVID-19 in Egyptian children and adolescents.

Impact: Vitamin D deficiency could be a modifiable risk factor for COVID-19 in children and adolescents because of its immune-modulatory action. To our knowledge, ours is the first such study to investigate the VDR Fok I polymorphism in Caucasian children and adolescents with COVID-19. Vitamin D deficiency and the VDR Fok I polymorphism may constitute independent risk factors for susceptibility to COVID-19 in Egyptian children and adolescents. Clinical trials should be urgently conducted to test for causality and to evaluate the efficacy of vitamin D supplementation for prophylaxis and treatment of COVID-19 taking into account the VDR polymorphisms.