The researchers used the lung function data to measure the time it took for participants to develop COPD, evaluating all 36 gene variants. They found variant rs3847987 of the VDR gene was found to influence the time to onset of COPD in the study population.
"We had the expectation that we would find an association of variants in one of these genes with the development of COPD," Dr. Poon said. "However, we did not expect that this particular variant in the VDR gene would be associated, since it has not been reported to be associated with COPD before."
Future studies will need to clearly determine the function of the gene variant, she added.
"More questions need to be answered before we can take any of these findings to clinical practice," Dr. Poon said. "For instance, we do not know what effect, if any, vitamin D levels would have on the risk of developing COPD and whether circulating vitamin D levels interact with genetic variants.
"Furthermore, we only selected two genes in the pathway, and there are numerous genes that are involved," she added. "If these findings are validated, then investigating the effect of this particular variant in the function of the vitamin D receptor will be important."
|Contact: Keely Savoie|
American Thoracic Society