A preliminary transcriptome analysis suggests a transitory effect of vitamin D on mitochondrial function in obese young finnish subjects

Elisabet Einarsdottir, Minna Pekkinen, Kaarel Krjutškov, Shintaro Katayama, Juha Kere, Outi Mäkitie, Heli Viljakainen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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The effect of vitamin D at the transcriptome level is poorly understood, and furthermore, it is unclear if it differs between obese and normal-weight subjects. The objective of the study was to explore the transcriptome effects of vitamin D supplementation. 

Design and methods: 

We analysed peripheral blood gene expression using GlobinLock oligonucleotides followed by RNA sequencing in individuals participating in a 12-week randomised double-blinded placebo-controlled vitamin D intervention study. The study involved 18 obese and 18 normal-weight subjects (of which 20 males) with mean (±s.d.) age 20.4 (±2.5) years and BMIs 36 (±10) and 23 (±4) kg/m 2 , respectively. The supplemental daily vitamin D dose was 50 µg (2000 IU). Data were available at baseline, 6- and 12-week time points and comparisons were performed between the vitamin D and placebo groups separately in obese and normal-weight subjects. 


Significant transcriptomic changes were observed at 6 weeks, and only in the obese subjects: 1724 genes were significantly upregulated and 186 genes were downregulated in the vitamin D group compared with placebo. Further analyses showed several enriched gene categories connected to mitochondrial function and metabolism, and the most significantly enriched pathway was related to oxidative phosphorylation (adjusted P value 3.08 × 10 -14 ). Taken together, our data suggest an effect of vitamin D supplementation on mitochondrial function in obese subjects. 


Vitamin D supplementation affects gene expression in obese, but not in normal-weight subjects. The altered genes are enriched in pathways related to mitochondrial function. The present study increases the understanding of the effects of vitamin D at the transcriptome level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)462-467
Number of pages6
JournalEndocrine Connections
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2019


  • Gene expression
  • Intervention
  • Mitochondrial function
  • Obesity
  • Transcriptome
  • Vitamin D


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