A team of researchers involving the University of Parma (Verona) and the CNR research institutes of the Calabria and Pisa regions, and led by Prof. Sandro Giannini (University of Padua), has published in the journal "Nutrients" the first study on the role of vitamin D in COVID-19 patients.
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Several studies have been conducted internationally on the immunomodulatory role of vitamin D, which seems to play a protective role against infectious agents. However, there is not much information on how vitamin D may affect the onset and the course of COVID-19. Many scientific papers have associated hypovitaminosis D with increased exposure to the disease and its more aggressive clinical manifestations. Little was, however, known about the effects of cholecalciferol (native vitamin D) intake in patients already affected by COVID-19. A recent French study suggested that cholecalciferol therapy, taken in the months preceding infection, could promote a less critical course in frail elderly patients with COVID-19.
The study Effectiveness of In-Hospital Cholecalciferol Use on Clinical Outcomes in Comorbid COVID-19 Patients: A Hypothesis-Generating Study has been published in the prestigious journal "Nutrients" and shows that the administration of vitamin D in Covid-19 patients with comorbidities has potential positive effects on the course of the disease.
"Ours was a retrospective research conducted on 91 patients affected by COVID-19, hospitalized during the first pandemic wave in the COVID-19 Area 3 of the Padua University Hospital”, explained professor Giannini. The patients included in our survey, with an average age of 74 years, had been treated with the therapeutic combinations then used in this context and, in 36 subjects out of 91 (39.6%), with a high dose of vitamin D for two consecutive days. The remaining 55 subjects (60.4%) had not been treated with vitamin D. The physician's choice to treat the patients had been essentially based on some clinical and laboratory characteristics: having low blood levels of vitamin D at the time of admission; being active smokers; demonstrating elevated blood D-Dimer levels (an indicator of greater disease aggressiveness); presenting a relevant degree of comorbidities.
The aim of the study was to evaluate whether the proportion of patients who underwent transfer to the ICU and/or death could be affected by vitamin D intake. During a follow-up period of approximately fourteen days, 27 (29.7%) patients were transferred to the ICU and 22 (24.2%) died. Overall, 43 patients (47.3%) would match the outcomes “Death” or “Transfer to ICU".
Statistical analysis revealed that the "weight" of comorbidities (represented by a history of cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, chronic renal failure, neoplastic diseases that are not in remission, diabetes mellitus, hematologic disease and endocrine disease) largely significantly modified the protective effect of vitamin D on the study objective, so that the greater the number of comorbidities present, the more evident was the benefit induced by vitamin D.
"In particular” - added Prof. Giannini-, “in subjects who had taken cholecalciferol, the risk of experiencing Death and/or Transfer to ICU was reduced by about 80% compared to subjects who had not taken it. Our work demonstrates, therefore, the potential beneficial effect of vitamin D administration in those patients affected by Covid-19 who, as very often happens, present relevant comorbidities and indicates the opportunity to conduct appropriate studies to confirm this hypothesis."
Press Release. “Comunicato stampa. COVID-19: TRATTAMENTO CON LA VITAMINA D IN PAZIENTI CON COMORBIDITÀ DIMINUISCE DECESSI E TRASFERIMENTI IN TERAPIA INTENSIVA. Università degli Studi di Padova. 19 gennaio 2021” / COVID-19: VITAMIN D TREATMENT IN PATIENTS WITH COMORBIDITIES DECREASES DEATHS AND ICU TRANSFERS. University of Padua, Italy. January 19, 2021