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Review of "Vitamin D and COVID-19 Susceptibility and Severity in the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative: a Mendelian Random Study"

Reviewer: Aida Santaolalla | 📗📗📗📗◻️

Published onApr 14, 2022
Review of "Vitamin D and COVID-19 Susceptibility and Severity in the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative: a Mendelian Random Study"
key-enterThis Pub is a Review of
Vitamin D and COVID-19 susceptibility and severity in the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative: A Mendelian randomization study

AbstractBackgroundIncreased vitamin D levels, as reflected by 25OHD measurements, have been proposed to protect against COVID-19 disease based on in-vitro, observational, and ecological studies. However, vitamin D levels are associated with many confounding variables and thus associations described to date may not be causal. Vitamin D Mendelian randomization (MR) studies have provided results that are concordant with large-scale vitamin D randomized trials. Here, we used two-sample MR to assess evidence supporting a causal effect of circulating 25OHD levels on COVID-19 susceptibility and severity.Methods and findingsGenetic variants strongly associated with 25OHD levels in a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of 443,734 participants of European ancestry (including 401,460 from the UK Biobank) were used as instrumental variables. GWASs of COVID-19 susceptibility, hospitalization, and severe disease from the COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative were used as outcome GWASs. These included up to 14,134 individuals with COVID-19, and 1,284,876 without COVID-19, from 11 countries. SARS-CoV-2 positivity was determined by laboratory testing or medical chart review. Population controls without COVID-19 were also included in the control groups for all outcomes, including hospitalization and severe disease. Analyses were restricted to individuals of European descent when possible. Using inverse-weighted MR, genetically increased 25OHD levels by one standard deviation on the logarithmic scale had no significant association with COVID-19 susceptibility (OR = 0.97; 95% CI: 0.95, 1.10; P=0.61), hospitalization (OR = 1.11; 95% CI: 0.91, 1.35; P=0.30), and severe disease (OR = 0.93; 95% CI: 0.73, 1.17; P=0.53). We used an additional 6 meta-analytic methods, as well as sensitivity analyses after removal of variants at risk of horizontal pleiotropy and obtained similar results. These results may be limited by weak instrument bias in some analyses. Further, our results do not apply to individuals with vitamin D deficiency.ConclusionIn this two-sample MR study, we did not observe evidence to support an association between 25OHD levels and COVID-19 susceptibility, severity, or hospitalization. Hence, vitamin D supplementation as a means of protecting against worsened COVID-19 outcomes is not supported by genetic evidence. Other therapeutic or preventative avenues should be given higher priority for COVID-19 randomized controlled trials.Author SummaryWhy was this study done?-Vitamin D levels have been associated with COVID-19 outcomes in multiple observational studies, though confounders are likely to bias these associations.-By using genetic instruments which limit such confounding, Mendelian randomization studies have consistently obtained results concordant with vitamin D supplementation randomized trials. This provides rationale to undertake vitamin D Mendelian randomization studies for COVID-19 outcomes.What did the researchers do and find?-We used the genetic variants obtained from the largest consortium of COVID-19 cases and controls, and the largest study on genetic determinants of vitamin D levels.-We used Mendelian randomization to estimate the effect of increased vitamin D on COVID-19 outcomes, while limiting confounding.-In multiple analyses, our results consistently showed no evidence for an association between genetically predicted vitamin D levels and COVID-19 susceptibility, hospitalization, or severe disease.What do these findings mean?-Using Mendelian randomization to reduce confounding that has traditionally biased vitamin D observational studies, we did not find evidence that vitamin D supplementation in the general population would improve COVID-19 outcomes-These findings, together with recent randomized controlled trial data, suggest that other therapies should be prioritized for COVID-19 trials.

To read the original manuscript, click the link above.

Since our solicitation of reviews, this preprint has been published in PLOS Medicine and the link to the published manuscript can be found here.

Reviewer 1 (Aida Santaolalla) | 📗📗📗📗◻️

RR:C19 Strength of Evidence Scale Key

📕 ◻️◻️◻️◻️ = Misleading

📙📙 ◻️◻️◻️ = Not Informative

📒📒📒 ◻️◻️ = Potentially Informative

📗📗📗📗◻️ = Reliable

📘📘📘📘📘 = Strong

To read the review, click the link below.