Severe Vitamin D Deficiency Linked to Pneumonia Deaths

No significant association between cathelicidin or beta-defensin-2 levels and mortality

MONDAY, May 23 (HealthDay News) -- In hospitalized patients with community-acquired pneumonia, severe vitamin D deficiency, but not antimicrobial peptide levels, is associated with increased 30-day mortality, according to a study published in the May issue of Respirology.

Leong Leow, M.D., from Waikato Hospital in Hamilton, New Zealand, and colleagues investigated the associations between mortality, 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency, and the antimicrobial peptides cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2. The 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels were measured within 24 hours of admission for a prospective cohort of 112 patients hospitalized with community-acquired pneumonia during winter 2008.

The investigators found that severe 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency (blood level lower than 30 nmol/L), found in 15 percent of the patients, was correlated with increased 30-day mortality (odds ratio, 12.7), compared to the patients with sufficient levels of vitamin D (>50 nmol/L). The increase in mortality was not accounted for by comorbidities, differences in age, or severity of acute illness. No association was seen between cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2 blood levels and mortality, although a trend toward increased mortality was seen with lower blood levels of cathelicidin (P = 0.053). In addition, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels could not be correlated with that of cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2.

"The findings support our hypothesis that 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels may influence the severity and outcomes of community-acquired pneumonia, although we did not find the expected association between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and these peptides," the authors write.

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