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CONTEXT: Observational studies have suggested that higher circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels are associated with favorable serum lipids and related metabolites. However, whether such observations reflect causality remains unclear. OBJECTIVE: We aimed to investigate the causal effect of elevated 25(OH)D with a detailed systemic metabolite profile in Chinese adults. METHODS: A total of 225 lipid and other metabolites were quantified in 4662 individuals in the China Kadoorie Biobank. Instrumental variable analyses were performed to test the causal associations of plasma 25(OH)D with lipids and metabolites. RESULTS: Higher plasma 25(OH)D was related to favorable lipid profiles in observational analyses. The genetic risk score was robustly correlated with observed 25(OH)D (beta[SE] = 3.54 [0.32]; P < 1 × 10-5, F-statistic = 122.3) and explained 8.4% of the variation in 25(OH)D in the Chinese population. For all individual metabolites, the causal estimates were not significant at the threshold P < 5 × 10-4 (multiple testing corrected). However, a Mendelian randomization (MR) estimate showed that per 1-SD increase in genetically determined 25(OH)D was suggestive of association with decreased levels of cholesterol, lipoprotein particles, and phospholipids within very small very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and intermediate-density lipoprotein (IDL) (P ≤ 0.05, nominal significance). For amino acids, fatty acids, ketone bodies, glycoprotein acetyls, fatty acids, and other traits, we did not observe any significant causal association. CONCLUSIONS: The MR analysis of metabolic data based a population-based cohort suggested a potential causal association of plasma 25(OH)D with cholesterol, lipoprotein particle, phospholipid concentrations, and total lipids within very small VLDL and IDL. Our findings highlight a long-term effect of 25(OH)D levels in maintaining healthy lipid metabolism.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Endocrinol Metab

Publication Date





e3249 - e3260


Mendelian randomization, Vitamin D, causality, genetic association, metabolic signature, Adult, Aged, China, Cholestanetriol 26-Monooxygenase, Cytochrome P450 Family 2, Female, Genotype, Humans, Male, Mendelian Randomization Analysis, Metabolome, Middle Aged, Oxidoreductases Acting on CH-CH Group Donors, Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide, Vitamin D