Association of Vitamin D Polygenic Risk Scores and Disease Outcome in People With Multiple Sclerosis

Eleni S. Vasileiou, Chen Hu, Charles N. Bernstein, Fred Lublin, Jerry S. Wolinsky, Gary R. Cutter, Elias S. Sotirchos, Kaarina Kowalec, Amber Salter, Shiv Saidha, Ellen M. Mowry, Peter A. Calabresi, Ruth Ann Marrie, Kathryn C. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background and ObjectivesObservational studies suggest low levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) may be associated with increased disease activity in people with multiple sclerosis (PwMS). Large-scale genome-wide association studies (GWAS) suggest 25(OH)D levels are partly genetically determined. The resultant polygenic scores (PGSs) could serve as a proxy for 25(OH)D levels, minimizing potential confounding and reverse causation in analyses with outcomes. Herein, we assess the association of genetically determined 25(OH)D and disease outcomes in MS.MethodsWe generated 25(OH)D PGS for 1,924 PwMS with available genotyping data pooled from 3 studies: the CombiRx trial (n = 575), Johns Hopkins MS Center (n = 1,152), and Immune-Mediated Inflammatory Diseases study (n = 197). 25(OH)D-PGS were derived using summary statistics (p < 5 × 10-8) from a large GWAS including 485,762 individuals with circulating 25(OH)D levels measured. We included clinical and imaging outcomes: Expanded disability status scale (EDSS), timed 25-foot walk (T25FW), nine-hole peg test (9HPT), radiologic activity, and optical coherence tomography-derived ganglion cell inner plexiform layer (GCIPL) thickness. A subset (n = 935) had measured circulating 25(OH)D levels. We fitted multivariable models based on the outcome of interest and pooled results across studies using random effects meta-analysis. Sensitivity analyses included a modified p value threshold for inclusion in the PGS (5 × 10-5) and applying Mendelian randomization (MR) rather than using PGS.ResultsInitial analyses demonstrated a positive association between generated 25(OH)D-PGS and circulating 25(OH)D levels (per 1SD increase in 25[OH]D PGS: 3.08%, 95% CI: 1.77%, 4.42%; p = 4.33e-06; R2 = 2.24%). In analyses with outcomes, we did not observe an association between 25(OH)D-PGS and relapse rate (per 1SD increase in 25[OH]D-PGS: 0.98; 95% CI: 0.87-1.10), EDSS worsening (per 1SD: 1.05; 95% CI: 0.87-1.28), change in T25FW (per 1SD: 0.07%; 95% CI: -0.34 to 0.49), or change in 9HPT (per 1SD: 0.09%; 95% CI: -0.15 to 0.33). 25(OH)D-PGS was not associated with new lesion accrual, lesion volume or other imaging-based outcomes (whole brain, gray, white matter volume loss or GCIPL thinning). The results were similarly null in analyses using other p value thresholds or those applying MR.DiscussionGenetically determined lower 25(OH)D levels were not associated with worse disease outcomes in PwMS and raises questions about the plausibility of a treatment effect of vitamin D in established MS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere200062
JournalNeurology: Neuroimmunology and NeuroInflammation
Issue number1
StatePublished - 23 Jan 2023


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