Objective: Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in cardiovascular disease and is associated with multiple cardiovascular risk factors. We investigated the serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration in relation to latitude, baseline carotid intima-media thickness (IMT), and IMT progression, the carotid IMT measures being surrogate markers of subclinical atherosclerosis and cardiovascular disease risk.
Approach and results: Serum 25(OH)D concentration was related to high-resolution carotid IMT measures in 3430 middle-aged and elderly subjects with high cardiovascular risk but no prevalent disease, who were recruited at 7 centers in Finland, Sweden, The Netherlands, France, and Italy. Participants underwent carotid ultrasound examination at baseline and at months 15 and 30 after entry into the study, whereas blood samples, clinical data, and information about lifestyle were collected at baseline. Serum 25(OH)D levels were positively associated with latitude (Jonckheere-Terpstra χ=166.643; P<0.001) and, as previously reported, associated with a range of cardiovascular risk factors. There were no independent relationships between 25(OH)D and segment-specific or composite IMT measures in the entire cohort. In analyses stratified by sex, diabetes mellitus, and statin treatment, weak associations with some baseline and progression measures of carotid IMT were observed in males, diabetics, and nonstatin-treated individuals.
Conclusions: Levels of 25(OH)D differed across Europe, were highest in the North, showed multiple associations with established and emerging cardiovascular risk factors but were not consistently, independently related to measures of carotid IMT. This argues against a protective role of vitamin D against subclinical atherosclerosis in high-risk individuals.
Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; cardiovascular diseases; carotid intimal medial thickness 1; risk factors; vitamin D.