Background: Host genetic susceptibility has been suggested as one of the most important explanations for inter-individual differences in tuberculosis (TB) risk. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene has been studied as a candidate locus due to genetic polymorphisms that affects the activity of the receptor and subsequent downstream vitamin D-mediated effects.
Methods: We reviewed published studies on VDR polymorphisms and TB susceptibility up to 15 April 2009 and quantitatively summarised associations of the most widely studied polymorphisms (FokI, TaqI, ApaI and BsmI) using meta-analysis.
Results: A total of 23 eligible studies were included in this review. Heterogeneous results were observed, which may be partly explained by the differences between populations. Among Asians, the FokI ff genotype showed a pronounced positive association (OR 2.0, 95%CI 1.3-3.2), a significant inverse association was observed for the BsmI bb genotype (OR 0.5, 95%CI 0.4-0.8), and marginal significant associations were found for TaqI and ApaI polymorphisms. However, none of the polymorphisms was significantly related to TB among Africans or South Americans.
Conclusions: The association of VDR polymorphisms with risk of TB observed in our analyses supports the hypothesis that vitamin D deficiency might play a role as risk factor during the development of TB.