Race, ancestry, and Vitamin D metabolism: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Simon Hsu*, Andrew N. Hoofnagle, Deepak K. Gupta, Orlando M. Gutierrez, Carmen A. Peralta, Steven Shea, Norrina B. Allen, Gregory Burke, Erin D. Michos, Joachim H. Ix, David Siscovick, Bruce M. Psaty, Karol E. Watson, Bryan Kestenbaum, Ian H. de Boer, Cassianne Robinson-Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Context: A comprehensive characterization of racial/ethnic variations in vitamin D metabolism markers may improve our understanding of differences in bone and mineral homeostasis and the risk of vitamin D–related diseases. Objective: Describe racial/ethnic differences in vitamin D metabolism markers and their associations with genetic ancestry. Design, Setting, Participants: In a cross-sectional study within the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA), we compared a comprehensive panel of vitamin D metabolism markers across self-reported racial/ethnic groups of Black (N = 1759), White (N = 2507), Chinese (N = 788), and Hispanic (N = 1411). We evaluated associations of proportion African and European ancestry with this panel of markers in Black and Hispanic participants using ancestry informative markers. Latent class analysis evaluated associations between patterns of vitamin D measurements with race/ethnicity. Results: Compared with Black participants, White participants had significantly higher serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and fibroblast growth factor-23; lower concentrations of parathyroid hormone and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D; circulating vitamin D metabolite ratios suggesting lower CYP27B1 and higher CYP24A1 activity; higher urinary concentrations of calcium and phosphorus with higher urinary fractional excretion of phosphorus; and differences in vitamin D binding globulin haplotypes. Higher percent European ancestry was associated with higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D and lower parathyroid hormone concentrations among Black and Hispanic participants. Latent classes defined by vitamin D measurements reflected these patterns and differed significantly by race/ethnicity and ancestry. Conclusions: Markers of vitamin D metabolism vary significantly by race/ethnicity, may serve to maintain bone and mineral homeostasis across ranges of 25-hydroxyvitamin D production, and be attributable, at least partly, to genetic ancestry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberdgaa612
JournalJournal of clinical endocrinology and metabolism
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2020


  • Ancestry
  • Mineral metabolism
  • Parathyroid hormone
  • Race
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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