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Low vitamin D levels: A risk factor of renal disease in lupus

New insights into the role of vitamin D in lupus

A study showed that low levels of vitamin D were associated with higher rates of end-stage renal disease in patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).

SLE patients have low serum levels of vitamin D, which increase the possibility of an association between vitamin deficiency, disease onset, and evolution. To clarify the role of vitamin D levels, may play in lupus inflammation, Dr. Michelle A. Petri and her colleagues of the “Hopkins Lupus Center” at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore (MD/USA) conducted a study to determine how low vitamin D levels could predict organ damage later.

The researchers analyzed data on 1,392 SLE patients, including their first visit where vitamin D levels were measured, and then their organ or tissue damage on all the patient’s follow-up clinic visits.

The risk of lifetime organ damage for patients with low vitamin D levels was calculated using the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology (SLICC/ACR) Damage Index scoring system.

SLE patients whose vitamin D levels were insufficient (below 20ng/ml) had an 87% elevated risk (66% adjusted) to develop end-stage renal disease. Skin damage was another concern, with a 69% higher risk (22% adjusted). Even the total organ damage relative risk was elevated by 11% (17% adjusted).

"Supplementary vitamin D helps to prevent one of the most dreaded complications of SLE. Vitamin D supplementation, which can reduce proteinuria, should be a part of the treatment plan for lupus nephritis patients", concluded Dr. Petri.1

1. Petri M et al. Low Vitamin D Is Associated with End Stage Renal Disease in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Abstract No 665, 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, November 3-8 2017, San Diego (CA/USA).