Hypovitaminosis D is common among pulmonary tuberculosis patients in Tanzania but is not explained by the acute phase response

J Nutr. 2008 Dec;138(12):2474-80. doi: 10.3945/jn.108.094979.


Vitamin D is essential to immune function, but little is known about the vitamin D status in equatorial populations. A cross-sectional study was conducted among pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) patients in Mwanza, Tanzania to identify the predictors of their vitamin D status. Data on sociodemography, season, and intake of food, alcohol, tobacco, and soil were collected, anthropometric measurements taken, and serum alpha(1)-antichymotrypsin (ACT), ferritin and soluble transferrin receptor (sTfR), and serum 25-hydroxy-(ergocalciferol+cholecalciferol) [25(OH)D] determined. Of the 655 patients studied, 79.7% (508/637) were culture-positive (PTB+) and 47.2% HIV infected. Mean serum ACT, an acute phase reactant, was 0.73 +/- 0.25 g/L with 69.2% >0.6 g/L. Mean serum 25(OH)D was 86.6 +/- 32.9 nmol/L, with 41.2% <75 nmol/L. Serum 25(OH)D was highest during the harvest season, May to July, compared with the remaining year. Single subjects had lower [10.4 (95% CI 4.0; 16.9) nmol/L] serum 25(OH)D concentrations than married subjects and PTB+ patients had concentrations lower [8.2 (95% CI 1.5; 14.9) nmol/L] than PTB- patients. Serum 25(OH)D increased with consumption of a large freshwater fish but not of small dried fish or other foods. BMI and serum TfR were positive predictors of serum 25(OH)D, whereas neither elevated serum ACT nor HIV were predictors. In conclusion, serum 25(OH)D is a valid measure of vitamin D status during the acute phase response. The lower concentrations in PTB+ patients may reflect lower sun exposure or increased utilization. The health consequences of hypovitaminosis D in low-income equatorial populations, at risk for both infectious and chronic diseases, should be studied.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute-Phase Reaction / blood
  • Acute-Phase Reaction / complications*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Calcifediol / blood
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Status
  • Seasons
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tanzania
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / blood
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / blood
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / etiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Calcifediol