Heritability and environmental factors affecting vitamin D status in rural Chinese adolescent twins

Lester M. Arguelles, Craig B. Langman, Adolfo J. Ariza, Farah N. Ali, Kimberley Dilley, Heather Price, Xin Liu, Shanchun Zhang, Xiumei Hong, Binyan Wang, Houxun Xing, Zhiping Li, Xue Liu, Wenbin Zhang, Xiping Xu, Xiaobin Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

59 Scopus citations


Context: Factors associated with the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in China are not well described, especially among Chinese adolescents. Objectives: The aim of the study was to examine important environmental or sociodemographic factors influencing 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels and estimate its heritability. Design:Asampleof226maleandfemale adolescent twinsaged13-20 yrfromalarge prospective twin cohort of rural Chinese children and adolescents that has been followed for 6 yr were evaluated. Main Outcome Measure(s): Blood level of 25(OH)D was measured using tandem mass spectrometry methodology. Results: The overall mean (SD) 25(OH)D level was 18.0 (9.4) ng/ml, with wide variation by gender and season. In males (47.4% of subjects), the mean (SD) 25(OH)D level was 12.1 (4.2) ng/ml in non-summer and 27.4 (8.8) ng/ml in summer; in females, it was 10.1 (4.1) ng/ml in non-summer and 19.5 (6.3) ng/ml insummer.Amultivariatemodelthatincludedgender,age,season, physical activity,andstudentstatus demonstrated that male gender, summer season, and high physical activity significantly increased 25(OH)D levels. Summer season and male gender also significantly decreased the risk of being in the lowest 25(OH)D tertile. Overall, 68.9% of the variability in 25(OH)D level was attributable to additive genetic influence. Stratificationbygenderfoundthat in males,85.9%ofthevariability in25(OH)Dlevel was attributable to such influence, but in females, it was only 17%. Conclusion: In this sample of rural Chinese adolescents, 25(OH)D level was influenced by gender, season, and physical activity level. There was a strong genetic influence on 25(OH)D level in males only.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3273-3281
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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