Efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 in patients with diabetic nephropathy: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Chin Med J (Engl). 2014;127(15):2837-43.


Background: Several studies found that vitamin D3 might alter glucose metabolism, protect kidney from injury and even proposed the mechanisms. But results from previous studies have been conflicting. The aim of this study was to evaluate the efficacy and safety of vitamin D3 in patients with diabetic nephropathy. The underlying mechanism of vitamin D3 decreasing proteinuria is also discussed.

Methods: We conducted a search of English and Chinese articles using database of Pubmed, Embase, Sinomed, CNKI, Wanfang and clinical trial register centers, for randomized controlled trials of vitamin D3 in diabetic nephropathy patients. Two reviewers performed independently. Meta-analysis was used when studies were homogeneous enough.

Results: Twenty studies, including 1 497 patients with diabetic nephropathy, were involved in this systemic review. Vitamin D3-treated patients with diabetic nephropathy had a statistically significant reduction in 24-hour proteinuria (weighted mean difference -0.44, 95% CI -0.54 to -0.34, Z = 8.80, P < 0.000 01) and urine albumin/creatine ratio (standardized mean difference -0.29, 95% CI -0.48 to -0.10, Z = 2.96, P = 0.003). But vitamin D3 supplementation did not significantly reduce blood pressure and hemoglobin A1c compared with control group. The potential mechanisms about the renal protection of vitamin D3, including the inhibition of rennin-angiotensin system, the protection of kidney from inflammation, fibrosis and the structure change of kidney are discussed. In addition, vitamin D3 did not significantly increase the incidence of adverse effects, including total adverse effects, gastrointestinal adverse effects and fluctuation of blood pressure.

Conclusions: Vitamin D3 can ameliorate proteinuria and protect kidney from injury in patients with diabetic nephropathy. This renoprotective effect is independent of blood pressure and glucose reduction. And it does not increase any adverse effects than control, even in combination therapy with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors/angiotensin receptor blockers. But due to the limited randomized controlled trials of high quality, more clinical researches should be taken in the future.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / drug therapy*
  • Humans
  • Proteinuria / drug therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Cholecalciferol