Background: 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency is associated with COPD and increased susceptibility to infection in the general population.
Methods: We investigated whether COPD patients deficient in 25-hydroxyvitamin D were more likely to be frequent exacerbators, had reduced outdoor activity and were more susceptible to human rhinovirus (HRV) exacerbations than those with insufficient and normal levels. We also investigated whether the frequency of FokI, BsmI and TaqIα 25-hydroxyvitamin D receptor (VDR) polymorphisms differed between frequent and infrequent exacerbators.
Results: There was no difference in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels between frequent and infrequent exacerbators in the summer; medians 44.1 nmol/L (29.1 - 68.0) and 39.4 nmol/L (22.3 - 59.2) or winter; medians 24.9 nmol/L (14.3 - 43.1) and 27.1 nmol/L (19.9 - 37.6). Patients who spent less time outdoors in the 14 days prior to sampling had lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (p = 0.02). Day length was independently associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels (p = 0.02). There was no difference in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels between baseline and exacerbation; medians 36.2 nmol/L (IQR 22.4-59.4) and 33.3 nmol/L (23.0-49.7); p = 0.43. HRV positive exacerbations were not associated with lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels at exacerbation than exacerbations that did not test positive for HRV; medians 30.0 nmol/L (20.4 - 57.8) and 30.6 nmol/L (19.4 - 48.7). There was no relationship between exacerbation frequency and any VDR polymorphisms (all p > 0.05).
Conclusions: Low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in COPD are not associated with frequent exacerbations and do not increase susceptibility to HRV exacerbations. Independent of day length, patients who spend less time outdoors have lower 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration.