Rationale: Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a pathogenic factor in sepsis and intensive therapy unit mortality but has not been assessed as a risk factor for acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Causality of these associations has never been demonstrated.
Objectives: To determine if ARDS is associated with vitamin D deficiency in a clinical setting and to determine if vitamin D deficiency in experimental models of ARDS influences its severity.
Methods: Human, murine and in vitro primary alveolar epithelial cell work were included in this study.
Findings: Vitamin D deficiency (plasma 25(OH)D levels <50 nmol/L) was ubiquitous in patients with ARDS and present in the vast majority of patients at risk of developing ARDS following oesophagectomy. In a murine model of intratracheal lipopolysaccharide challenge, dietary-induced vitamin D deficiency resulted in exaggerated alveolar inflammation, epithelial damage and hypoxia. In vitro, vitamin D has trophic effects on primary human alveolar epithelial cells affecting >600 genes. In a clinical setting, pharmacological repletion of vitamin D prior to oesophagectomy reduced the observed changes of in vivo measurements of alveolar capillary damage seen in deficient patients.
Conclusions: Vitamin D deficiency is common in people who develop ARDS. This deficiency of vitamin D appears to contribute to the development of the condition, and approaches to correct vitamin D deficiency in patients at risk of ARDS should be developed.
Trial registration: UKCRN ID 11994.
Keywords: ARDS; Innate Immunity.
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