25 June 2001
Background: The association between vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene polymorphisms and bone mineral density (BMD) is controversial, and may be effected by ethnic ancestry and age. Aims: To determine the distribution of the BsmI VDR gene polymorphism in healthy Israeli populations, and to study its association with BMD in perimenopausal and osteoporotic Ashkenazi women. Methods: Allele and genotype frequencies of the VDR gene defined by BsmI restriction site were determined in 634 healthy Israelis of seven ethnic groups, 90 Ashkenazi perimenopausal women and in 75 Ashkenazi osteoporotic women. Genotype-related differences in spinal and femoral neck BMD were determined in Ashkenazi perimenopausal women. Allele and genotype frequencies in Ashkenazi osteoporotic women were compared with Ashkenazi controls. Results: The frequency of the BB genotype was higher in Yemenites compared with Ashkenazi and Libyan Jews (23, 11 and 8%, respectively, p < 0.05), and lower in Ashkenazi compared with Iraqi and Persian Jews (11, 20 and 21%, respectively, p = 0.05). BMD did not vary by genotype in perimenopausal women, nor were there differences in the frequencies of the B allele or the BB genotype in osteoporotic women compared with controls. Conclusions: There is ethnic variability in the frequency of the BsmI VDR gene polymorphism. In Ashkenazi perimenopausal and osteoporotic women this polymorphism is not associated with BMD.