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PLoS Med ; 18(6): e1003605, 2021 06.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1249572


BACKGROUND: Increased vitamin D levels, as reflected by 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25OHD) measurements, have been proposed to protect against COVID-19 based on in vitro, observational, and ecological studies. However, vitamin D levels are associated with many confounding variables, and thus associations described to date may not be causal. Vitamin D Mendelian randomization (MR) studies have provided results that are concordant with large-scale vitamin D randomized trials. Here, we used 2-sample MR to assess evidence supporting a causal effect of circulating 25OHD levels on COVID-19 susceptibility and severity. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Genetic variants strongly associated with 25OHD levels in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 443,734 participants of European ancestry (including 401,460 from the UK Biobank) were used as instrumental variables. GWASs of COVID-19 susceptibility, hospitalization, and severe disease from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative were used as outcome GWASs. These included up to 14,134 individuals with COVID-19, and up to 1,284,876 without COVID-19, from up to 11 countries. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was determined by laboratory testing or medical chart review. Population controls without COVID-19 were also included in the control groups for all outcomes, including hospitalization and severe disease. Analyses were restricted to individuals of European descent when possible. Using inverse-weighted MR, genetically increased 25OHD levels by 1 standard deviation on the logarithmic scale had no significant association with COVID-19 susceptibility (odds ratio [OR] = 0.95; 95% CI 0.84, 1.08; p = 0.44), hospitalization (OR = 1.09; 95% CI: 0.89, 1.33; p = 0.41), and severe disease (OR = 0.97; 95% CI: 0.77, 1.22; p = 0.77). We used an additional 6 meta-analytic methods, as well as conducting sensitivity analyses after removal of variants at risk of horizontal pleiotropy, and obtained similar results. These results may be limited by weak instrument bias in some analyses. Further, our results do not apply to individuals with vitamin D deficiency. CONCLUSIONS: In this 2-sample MR study, we did not observe evidence to support an association between 25OHD levels and COVID-19 susceptibility, severity, or hospitalization. Hence, vitamin D supplementation as a means of protecting against worsened COVID-19 outcomes is not supported by genetic evidence. Other therapeutic or preventative avenues should be given higher priority for COVID-19 randomized controlled trials.

COVID-19/blood , Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide , Severity of Illness Index , Vitamin D Deficiency/blood , Vitamin D/analogs & derivatives , Adult , Aged , COVID-19/etiology , Case-Control Studies , Causality , Dietary Supplements , Female , Genetic Predisposition to Disease , Genome-Wide Association Study , Hospitalization , Humans , Male , Mendelian Randomization Analysis , Middle Aged , Odds Ratio , Risk Factors , SARS-CoV-2 , Vitamin D/blood , Vitamin D Deficiency/complications , Vitamin D Deficiency/genetics , /genetics
Int J Mol Sci ; 22(9)2021 May 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1231496


In addition to its canonical functions, vitamin D has been proposed to be an important mediator of the immune system. Despite ample sunshine, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent (>80%) in the Middle East, resulting in a high rate of supplementation. However, the underlying molecular mechanisms of the specific regimen prescribed and the potential factors affecting an individual's response to vitamin D supplementation are not well characterized. Our objective is to describe the changes in the blood transcriptome and explore the potential mechanisms associated with vitamin D3 supplementation in one hundred vitamin D-deficient women who were given a weekly oral dose (50,000 IU) of vitamin D3 for three months. A high-throughput targeted PCR, composed of 264 genes representing the important blood transcriptomic fingerprints of health and disease states, was performed on pre and post-supplementation blood samples to profile the molecular response to vitamin D3. We identified 54 differentially expressed genes that were strongly modulated by vitamin D3 supplementation. Network analyses showed significant changes in the immune-related pathways such as TLR4/CD14 and IFN receptors, and catabolic processes related to NF-kB, which were subsequently confirmed by gene ontology enrichment analyses. We proposed a model for vitamin D3 response based on the expression changes of molecules involved in the receptor-mediated intra-cellular signaling pathways and the ensuing predicted effects on cytokine production. Overall, vitamin D3 has a strong effect on the immune system, G-coupled protein receptor signaling, and the ubiquitin system. We highlighted the major molecular changes and biological processes induced by vitamin D3, which will help to further investigate the effectiveness of vitamin D3 supplementation among individuals in the Middle East as well as other regions.

Cholecalciferol/genetics , Immunomodulation/immunology , Lipopolysaccharide Receptors/genetics , Toll-Like Receptor 4/genetics , Vitamin D/genetics , Adolescent , Adult , Cholecalciferol/administration & dosage , Cholecalciferol/immunology , Dietary Supplements , Female , Gene Expression/drug effects , Humans , Immunomodulation/drug effects , Nutrition Therapy , Vitamin D/immunology , Vitamin D Deficiency/diet therapy , Vitamin D Deficiency/genetics , Vitamin D Deficiency/immunology , Vitamin D Deficiency/pathology , Young Adult
Free Radic Biol Med ; 161: 84-91, 2020 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1023568


There is a marked variation in mortality risk associated with COVID-19 infection in the general population. Low socioeconomic status and other social determinants have been discussed as possible causes for the higher burden in African American communities compared with white communities. Beyond the social determinants, the biochemical mechanism that predisposes individual subjects or communities to the development of excess and serious complications associated with COVID-19 infection is not clear. Virus infection triggers massive ROS production and oxidative damage. Glutathione (GSH) is essential and protects the body from the harmful effects of oxidative damage from excess reactive oxygen radicals. GSH is also required to maintain the VD-metabolism genes and circulating levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)VD). Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) is necessary to prevent the exhaustion and depletion of cellular GSH. X-linked genetic G6PD deficiency is common in the AA population and predominantly in males. Acquired deficiency of G6PD has been widely reported in subjects with conditions of obesity and diabetes. This suggests that individuals with G6PD deficiency are vulnerable to excess oxidative stress and at a higher risk for inadequacy or deficiency of 25(OH)VD, leaving the body unable to protect its 'oxidative immune-metabolic' physiological functions from the insults of COVID-19. An association between subclinical interstitial lung disease with 25(OH)VD deficiencies and GSH deficiencies has been previously reported. We hypothesize that the overproduction of ROS and excess oxidative damage is responsible for the impaired immunity, secretion of the cytokine storm, and onset of pulmonary dysfunction in response to the COVID-19 infection. The co-optimization of impaired glutathione redox status and excess 25(OH)VD deficiencies has the potential to reduce oxidative stress, boost immunity, and reduce the adverse clinical effects of COVID-19 infection in the AA population.

COVID-19/pathology , Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency/genetics , Oxidative Stress/physiology , Reactive Oxygen Species/metabolism , Vitamin D Deficiency/genetics , African Americans/statistics & numerical data , COVID-19/mortality , Cytokine Release Syndrome/pathology , Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase/genetics , Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase Deficiency/metabolism , Glutathione/metabolism , Humans , SARS-CoV-2 , Vitamin D/analogs & derivatives , Vitamin D/metabolism