Changes in vitamin D levels in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: Effects on fatigue, disease activity, and damage

Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2010 Aug;62(8):1160-5. doi: 10.1002/acr.20186.


Objective: To analyze whether changes in serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) levels affect activity, irreversible organ damage, and fatigue in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

Methods: We performed an observational study of 80 patients with SLE included in a previous cross-sectional study of 25(OH)D, reassessed 2 years later. Oral vitamin D(3) was recommended in those with low baseline 25(OH)D levels. The relationship between changes in 25(OH)D levels from baseline and changes in fatigue (measured by a 0-10 visual analog scale [VAS]), SLE activity (measured by the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index [SLEDAI]), and irreversible organ damage (measured by the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics/American College of Rheumatology Damage Index [SDI]) were analyzed.

Results: Sixty patients took vitamin D(3). Mean 25(OH)D levels increased among all treated patients (P = 0.044), in those with baseline vitamin D levels <30 ng/ml (P < 0.001), and in those with baseline vitamin D levels <10 ng/ml (P = 0.005). Fifty-seven patients (71%) still had 25(OH)D levels <30 ng/ml and 5 (6%) had 25(OH)D levels <10 ng/ml. Inverse significant correlations between 25(OH)D levels and the VAS (P = 0.001) and between changes in 25(OH)D levels and changes in the VAS in patients with baseline 25(OH)D levels <30 ng/ml (P = 0.017) were found. No significant correlations were seen between the variation of the SLEDAI or SDI values and the variation in 25(OH)D levels (P = 0.87 and P = 0.63, respectively).

Conclusion: Increasing 25(OH)D levels may have a beneficial effect on fatigue. Our results do not support any effects of increasing 25(OH)D levels on SLE severity, although they are limited by the insufficient 25(OH)D response to the recommended regimen of oral vitamin D(3) replacement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatigue
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives


  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D