Objective: To explore the association between low serum vitamin D and risk of active tuberculosis in humans.
Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.
Data sources: Observational studies published between 1980 and July 2006 (identified through Medline) that examined the association between low serum vitamin D and risk of active tuberculosis.
Results: For the review, seven papers were eligible from 151 identified in the search. The pooled effect size in random effects meta-analysis was 0.68 with 95% CI 0.43-0.93. This 'medium to large' effect represents a probability of 70% that a healthy individual would have higher serum vitamin D level than an individual with tuberculosis if both were chosen at random from a population. There was little heterogeneity between the studies.
Conclusions: Low serum vitamin D levels are associated with higher risk of active tuberculosis. Although more prospectively designed studies are needed to firmly establish the direction of this association, it is more likely that low body vitamin D levels increase the risk of active tuberculosis. In view of this, the potential role of vitamin D supplementation in people with tuberculosis and hypovitaminosis D-associated conditions like chronic kidney disease should be evaluated.