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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Severe and uncontrolled adult asthma is associated with vitamin D insufficiency and deficiency

Stephanie Korn1*, Marisa Hübner1, Matthias Jung1, Maria Blettner2 and Roland Buhl1

Author Affiliations

1 Pulmonary Department, Mainz University Hospital, Langenbeckstrasse 1, 55131, Mainz, Germany

2 Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Informatics, Mainz University Hospital, Langenbeckstrasse 1, 55131, Mainz, Germany

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Respiratory Research 2013, 14:25  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-14-25

Published: 22 February 2013

Abstract

Background

Vitamin D has effects on the innate and adaptive immune system. In asthmatic children low vitamin D levels are associated with poor asthma control, reduced lung function, increased medication intake, and exacerbations. Little is known about vitamin D in adult asthma patients or its association with asthma severity and control.

Methods

Clinical parameters of asthma control and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) serum concentrations were evaluated in 280 adult asthma patients (mean ± SD: 45.0 ± 13.8 yrs., 40% male, FEV1 74.9 ± 23.4%, 55% severe, 51% uncontrolled).

Results

25(OH)D concentrations in adult asthmatics were low (25.6 ±11.8 ng/ml) and vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency (vitamin D <30 ng/ml) was common (67%). 25(OH)D levels were related to asthma severity (intermittent: 31.1 ± 13.0 ng/ml, mild: 27.3 ± 11.9 ng/ml, moderate: 26.5 ± 12.0 ng/ml, severe: 24.0 ± 11.8 ng/ml, p = 0.046) and control (controlled: 29.5 ± 12.5 ng/ml, partly controlled 25.9 ± 10.8 ng/ml, uncontrolled: 24.2 ± 11.8 ng/ml, p = 0.030). The frequency of vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency was significantly higher in patients with severe or uncontrolled asthma and was associated with a lower FEV1 (vitamin D <30 vs. ≥30 ng/ml 2.3 ± 0.9 L vs. 2.7 ± 1.0 L, p = 0.006), higher levels of exhaled NO (45 ± 46 ppb vs. 31 ± 37 ppb, p = 0.023), a higher BMI (28.3 ± 6.2 vs. 25.1 ± 3.9, p < 0.001), and sputum eosinophilia (5.1 ± 11.8% vs. 0.5 ± 1.0%, p = 0.005). The use of oral corticosteroids or sputum eosinophilia was associated with a 20% or 40% higher risk of vitamin D insufficiency or deficiency.

Conclusions

25(OH)D levels below 30 ng/ml are common in adult asthma and most pronounced in patients with severe and/or uncontrolled asthma, supporting the hypothesis that improving suboptimal vitamin D status might be effective in prevention and treatment of asthma.

Keywords:
Asthma; BMI; Corticosteroids; Eosinophils; Vitamin D