Relationship Between a Vitamin D Genetic Risk Score and Autoantibodies Among First-Degree Relatives of Probands With Rheumatoid Arthritis and Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

Lauren A. Vanderlinden, Elizabeth A. Bemis, Jennifer Seifert, Joel M. Guthridge, Kendra A. Young, Mary Kristen Demoruelle, Marie Feser, Wade DeJager, Susan Macwana, Ted R. Mikuls, James R. O’Dell, Michael H. Weisman, Jane Buckner, Richard M. Keating, Patrick M. Gaffney, Jennifer A. Kelly, Carl D. Langefeld, Kevin D. Deane, Judith A. James, Vernon Michael HolersJill M. Norris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels have been associated with reduced risk for autoimmune diseases and are influenced by vitamin D metabolism genes. We estimated genetically-determined vitamin D levels by calculating a genetic risk score (GRS) and investigated whether the vitamin D GRS was associated with the presence of autoantibodies related to rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in those at increased risk for developing RA and SLE, respectively. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we selected autoantibody positive (aAb+) and autoantibody negative (aAb-) individuals from the Studies of the Etiologies of Rheumatoid Arthritis (SERA), a cohort study of first-degree relatives (FDRs) of individuals with RA (189 RA aAb+, 181 RA aAb-), and the Lupus Family Registry and Repository (LFRR), a cohort study of FDRs of individuals with SLE (157 SLE aAb+, 185 SLE aAb-). Five SNPs known to be associated with serum 25(OH)D levels were analyzed individually as well as in a GRS: rs4588 (GC), rs12785878 (NADSYN1), rs10741657 (CYP2R1), rs6538691 (AMDHD1), and rs8018720 (SEC23A). Results: Both cohorts had similar demographic characteristics, with significantly older and a higher proportion of males in the aAb+ FDRs. The vitamin D GRS was inversely associated with RA aAb+ (OR = 0.85, 95% CI = 0.74-0.99), suggesting a possible protective factor for RA aAb positivity in FDRs of RA probands. The vitamin D GRS was not associated with SLE aAb+ in the LFRR (OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.94-1.27). The SEC23A SNP was associated with RA aAb+ in SERA (OR = 0.65, 95% CI = 0.43-0.99); this SNP was not associated with SLE aAb+ in LFRR (OR = 1.41, 95% CI = 0.90 – 2.19). Conclusion: Genes associated with vitamin D levels may play a protective role in the development of RA aAbs in FDRs of RA probands, perhaps through affecting lifelong vitamin D status. The GRS and the SEC23A SNP may be of interest for future investigation in pre-clinical RA. In contrast, these results do not support a similar association in SLE FDRs, suggesting other mechanisms involved in the relationship between vitamin D and SLE aAbs not assessed in this study.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number881332
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Jun 3 2022


  • autoantibody negative (aAb-)
  • autoantibody positive (aAb+)
  • genetic risk score (GRS)
  • rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
  • systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
  • vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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