VDR polymorphism, gene expression and vitamin D levels in leprosy patients from North Indian population

by Itu Singh, Mallika Lavania, Vinay Kumar Pathak, Madhvi Ahuja, Ravindra P. Turankar, Vikram Singh, Utpal Sengupta

Background

Leprosy is a chronic infectious disease caused by Mycobacterium leprae and mainly affects skin, peripheral nerves. Vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphism has been found to be associated with leprosy. Vitamin D has been shown to control several host immunomodulating properties through VDR gene. Vitamin D deficiency was also found to be linked to an increased risk for several infections and metabolic diseases.

Objective

In the present study, we investigated the association of VDR gene polymorphism, mRNA gene expression of VDR and the vitamin D levels with leprosy and its reactional states.

Methodology

A total of 305 leprosy patients consisting of tuberculoid (TT), borderline tuberculoid (BT), borderline lepromatous (BL), lepromatous leprosy (LL), as well as 200 healthy controls were enrolled in the study. We identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of VDR Taq1, Fok1 and Apa1, as well as the expression of VDR mRNA gene using PCR-based restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analysis and real-time PCR respectively. We also performed ELISA to measure vitamin D levels.

Result

We observed that SNP of VDR gene (Fok1 and Taq1) are associated with the leprosy disease. The allelic frequency distribution of T and t allele (p = 0.0037), F and f allele (p = 0.0024) was significantly higher in leprosy patients and healthy controls. ff genotype of Fok1 was found to be associated with leprosy patients [p = 0.0004; OR (95% CI) 3.148 (1.662–5.965)]. The recessive model of Fok1 genotype was also found to be significantly associated in leprosy patients in comparison to healthy controls [p = 0.00004; OR (95% CI) 2.85 (1.56–5.22)]. Leprosy patients are significantly associated with t-F-a haplotype. Further, VDR gene expression was found to be lower in non-reaction group compared to that of reaction group of leprosy and healthy controls. Paradoxically, we noted no difference in the levels of vitamin D between leprosy patients and healthy controls.

Conclusion

Blood levels of vitamin D do not play any role in clinical manifestations of any forms of leprosy. ff genotype of Fok1 and tt genotype of Taq1 was found to be associated with leprosy per se. Association of t-F-a haplotype with leprosy was found to be significant and could be used as a genetic marker to identify individuals at high risk for developing leprosy. VDR gene expression was lower in TT/BT and BL/LL groups of leprosy in comparison to that of healthy controls.

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