Gene-by-Diet Interactions Influence Calcium Absorption and Bone Density in Mice



Dietary calcium (Ca) intake is needed to attain peak bone mineral density (BMD). Habitual low Ca intake increases intestinal Ca absorption efficiency to protect bone mass, but the mechanism controlling, and the impact of genetics on, this adaptive response is not clear. We fed 11 genetically diverse inbred mouse lines a normal (0.5%) or low (0.25%) Ca diet from 4 to 12 weeks of age (n = 8 per diet per line) and studied the independent and interacting effects of diet and genetics on Ca and bone metabolism. Significant genetic variation was observed in all bone, renal, and intestinal phenotypes measured including Ca absorption. Also, adaptation of Ca absorption and bone parameters to low dietary Ca was significantly different among the lines. Ca absorption was positively correlated to femur BMD (r = 0.17, p = 0.02), and distal femur bone volume/tissue volume (BV/TV) (r = 0.34, p < 0.0001). Although Ca absorption was correlated to 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) (r = 0.35, p < 0.0001), the adaptation of Ca absorption to low Ca intake did not correlate to diet-induced adaptation of 1,25(OH)2D across the 11 lines. Several intestinal proteins have been proposed to mediate Ca absorption: claudins 2 and 12, voltage gated Ca channel v1.3 (Cav1.3), plasma membrane Ca ATPase 1b (PMCA1b), transient receptor potential vanilloid member 6 (TRPV6), and calbindin D9k (CaBPD9k). Only the mRNA levels for TRPV6, CaBPD9k, and PMCA1b were related to Ca absorption (r = 0.42, 0.43, and 0.21, respectively). However, a significant amount of the variation in Ca absorption is not explained by the current model and suggests that novel mechanisms remain to be determined. These observations lay the groundwork for discovery-focused initiatives to identify novel genetic factors controlling gene-by-diet interactions affecting Ca/bone metabolism. © 2014 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.