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Title: Impact of genetic variation on gene regulatory effects of vitamin D in immunity and inflammation
Author: Berlanga-Taylor, Antonio Jorge
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Genome-wide association studies in multifactorial diseases have contributed to our understanding of genetic risk and defined specific disease-associated loci in particular populations. However, risk cannot be fully explained by genetics and evidence points to both genetic and environmental factors being important in causation and pathophysiology. The role of vitamin D in calcium homeostasis is well established. Over the last 30 years it has become clear that vitamin D has a wider role in physiology and disease, notably in autoimmune, cancer and infectious conditions. However, the molecular mechanisms and possible causal role of these associations are poorly understood. Here I propose that the role of vitamin D in immune and inflammatory responses is significant, that genetic variation partly determines the response to vitamin D and that integrative analysis can yield important insights for disease mechanisms. For this I investigate the relationship between vitamin D and genetic risk involving the immune system by focusing on multiple sclerosis and sepsis, conditions classically defined as autoimmune and inflammatory respectively. I describe data resolving genetic variation associated with autoimmune diseases in vitamin D receptor binding sites; the association to multiple sclerosis of a genetic variant lying within a VDR binding site; the correlation of plasma vitamin D with genotype and cell specific transcriptomes in healthy volunteers; and the extent of vitamin D deficiency in severe sepsis and septic shock, its association with survival, correlation with gene expression and use in sub-classification to identify patients at higher risk of death. The limitations of each study and future work are discussed. Integrating epidemiological and clinical observations with genetic and functional genomics techniques has the potential to reveal interactions in population specific disease susceptibility that may lead to an improved understanding of disease mechanisms and clinical translation. The work I present here bridges molecular analysis, candidate and genome- wide, with phenotypic observations that are important in our understanding of disease.
Supervisor: Knight, Julian C.; Ebers, George Sponsor: Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, Mexico (CONACyT) ; Multiple Sclerosis Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology (medical sciences) ; Genetics (medical sciences) ; Immunology ; genetic variation ; vitamin D ; gene-environment interactions ; transcriptional regulation ; sepsis ; multiple sclerosis