Vitamin D receptor and Alzheimer's disease: A genetic and functional study

Liyong Wang, Kenju Hara, Jessica M. Van Baaren, Justin C. Price, Gary W. Beecham, Paul J. Gallins, Patrice L. Whitehead, Gaofeng Wang, Chunrong Lu, Michael A. Slifer, Stephan Züchner, Eden R. Martin, Deborah Mash, Jonathan L. Haines, Margaret A. Pericak-Vance, John R. Gilbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

64 Scopus citations


Genetic studies on late-onset Alzheimer's disease (AD) have repeatedly mapped susceptibility loci onto chromosome 12q13, encompassing the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene. Epidemiology studies have indicated vitamin D insufficiency as a risk factor for AD. Given that VDR is the major mediator for vitamin D's actions, we sought to clarify the role of VDR in late-onset AD. We conducted an association study in 492 late-onset AD cases and 496 controls with 80 tagging single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The strongest association was found at a promoter SNP rs11568820 (P = 9.1×10 -6, odds ratio (OR) = 1.69), which resides within the transcription factor Cdx-2 binding site and the SNP has been also known as CDX2. The risk-allele at rs11568820 is associated with lower VDR promoter activity (p < 10 -11). The overexpression of VDR or vitamin D treatment suppressed amyloid precursor protein (APP) transcription in neuroblastoma cells (p < 0.001). We provide both statistical evidence and functional data suggesting VDR confers genetic risk for AD. Our findings are consistent with epidemiology studies suggesting that vitamin D insufficiency increases the risk of developing AD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1844.e1-1844.e9
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2012


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Amyloid precursor protein
  • Association
  • Cdx-2
  • Functional polymorphism
  • Vitamin D receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Aging
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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