Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene SNPs influence VDR expression and modulate protection from multiple sclerosis in HLA-DRB1*15-positive individuals

Cristina Agliardi, Franca R. Guerini, Marina Saresella, Domenico Caputo, Maurizio A. Leone, Milena Zanzottera, Elisabetta Bolognesi, Ivana Marventano, Nadia Barizzone, Maria E. Fasano, Nasser Al-Daghri, Mario Clerici

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disease with a multifactorial etiology. The HLA-DRB1*15 allele, is the main genetic risk factor for MS in Caucasians; recent findings showed that the transcription of this molecule is regulated by the vitamin D/vitamin D receptor (VDR) complex. We analyzed SNPs within the VDR gene in association with the HLA-DRB1 locus in 641 MS patients diagnosed according to McDonald criteria and 558 age- and sex-matched healthy controls, to verify possible correlations between the vitamin D/VDR complex, HLA-DRB1, and susceptibility to MS.Results confirmed that HLA-DRB1*15 is a strong predisposing allele (p-7; OR: 3.04; 95% CI: 2.02-4.60) for MS. Cosegregation analyses of VDR SNPs with HLA-DRB1*15 indicated a reduction of risk for MS given by the presence of the -DRB1*15-rs731236 T VDR haplotype (p=9.5×10 -5; OR: 2.52; 95% CI: 1.56-4.06) and, conversely, an augmented risk for disease associated with the -DRB1*15-rs731236 C VDR haplotype. Analyses performed on HLA-DRB1*15-positive MS patients and HC alone confirmed the protective role of rs731236 TT VDR genotype (p y=0.004; OR: 0.53; 95% CI: 0.33-0.83); notably, FACS, PCR, and confocal microscopy analyses showed that rs731236 TT genotype is associated with an augmented VDR expression in MBP-stimulated PBMC from patients.In conclusion, rs731236 TT VDR genotype modulates VDR expression and confers protection against MS in HLA-DRB1*15-positive individuals. Results herein offer a model justifying the interaction between the major genetic (HLA-DRB*15) and environmental (vitamin D) factors associated with MS onset.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1460-1467
Number of pages8
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Genetic susceptibility
  • HLA-DRB1*15
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • SNP
  • VDR
  • Vitamin d

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems


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