Vitamin D receptor haplotypes affect lead levels during pregnancy
Pregnant women are particularly susceptible to toxic effects associated with lead (Pb) exposure. Pb accumulates in bone tissue and is rapidly mobilized from bones during pregnancy, thus resulting in fetal contamination. While vitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphisms modify bone mineralization and affect Pb biomarkers including blood (Pb-B) and serum (Pb-S) Pb concentrations, and %Pb-S/Pb-B ratio, the effects of these polymorphisms on Pb levels in pregnant women are unknown. This study aimed at examining the effects of three (FokI, BsmI and ApaI) VDR polymorphisms (and VDR haplotypes) on Pb levels in pregnant women. Pb-B and Pb-S were determined by inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry in samples from 256 healthy pregnant women and their respective umbilical cords. Genotypes for the VDR polymorphisms were determined by PCR and restriction fragment length digestion. While the three VDR polymorphisms had no significant effects on Pb-B, Pb-S or %Pb-S/Pb-B ratio, the haplotype combining the f, a, and b alleles for the FokI, ApaI and BsmI polymorphisms, respectively, was associated with significantly lower Pb-S and %Pb-S/Pb-B (P<0.05). However, maternal VDR haplotypes had no effects on Pb levels in the umbilical cords. To our knowledge, this is the first study showing that a combination of genetic polymorphisms (haplotype) commonly found in the VDR gene affects Pb-S and %Pb-S/Pb-B ratios in pregnant women. These findings may have major implications for Pb toxicity because they may help to predict the existence of a group of subjects that is genetically less prone to Pb toxicity during pregnancy.
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