Background: Low back pain (LBP) is common in athletes. LBP can be detrimental to athletic performance and health. Factors predisposing to LBP in athletes remain elusive and require further studies. We investigated whether carriage of a specific genotype and/or allele of vitamin D receptor gene (VDR) FokI polymorphism (rs2228570) was a risk factor for LBP in athletes of different sports disciplines. Methods: This genotype/phenotype association case-control study included 60 Italian athletes (25 females and 35 males; mean age 33.9 ± 13.3 years; body-mass-index 23.5 ± 3.5 kg/m2) of which 16.7% were swimmers, 11. 7% soccer players, 11.7% volleyball players, 10.0% rugby players and other disciplines. VDR-FokI polymorphism was measured by PCR-RFLP in 24 athletes with LBP and 36 athletes without LBP episodes. Absence or presence of the FokI restriction site was denoted "F" and "f", respectively. Other risk factors were evaluated by a questionnaire. Results: The homozygous FF genotype was found in 58.3% (14/24) of athletes with LBP versus 27.8% (10/36) of athletes without LBP, adjusted OR = 5.78, 95% CI 1.41-23.8, P = 0.015. The F allele was a 2-fold risk factor to develop LBP, adjusted OR = 2.55, 95% CI 1.02-6.43, P = 0.046, while f allele was protective. Exposure to vehicle vibrations ≥2 h daily, and family history of lumbar spine pathology were significant risk factors for LBP with OR=3.54, and OR=9.21, respectively. Conclusions: This is the first study in which an association between VDR-FokI polymorphism and LBP in athletes was found. Further research is needed to extend our results, and to clarify the biochemical pathways associated with how vitamin D modulates LBP in athletes. The VDR-FokI polymorphism should be considered when developing genetic focused studies of precision medicine on health in athletes.
Cauci, S., Migliozzi, F., Trombetta, C. S., Venuto, I., Saccheri, P., Travan, L., & Chiriacò, G. (2017). Low back pain and FokI (rs2228570) polymorphism of vitamin D receptor in athletes. BMC Sports Science, Medicine and Rehabilitation, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13102-017-0069-x