Vitamin D does not modulate immune-mediated bone loss during ART initiation

Antivir Ther. 2019;24(5):355-362. doi: 10.3851/IMP3316.


Background: Vitamin D (VitD) and calcium (Ca) supplementation attenuates antiretroviral therapy (ART)-associated bone loss, but it is unclear whether this effect is mediated through immunomodulation.

Methods: In this exploratory analysis of A5280, a 48-week, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of VitD/Ca supplementation with ART initiation, we characterized lymphocyte phenotypes and receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa-B ligand (RANKL) expression by median fluorescence intensity (MFI) at baseline and 48 weeks. Changes were evaluated within and between treatment groups by Wilcoxon signed rank and rank sum tests, respectively. Spearman correlations estimated relationships between cellular phenotypes and bone mineral density (BMD).

Results: Of 165 participants enrolled, 138 had samples for cellular phenotypes (64 VitD/Ca, 74 placebo). Markers of CD4, CD8 activation (CD38+HLA-DR+) declined (all P<0.001), but did not differ between arms. There was no decline in either %T-cells (CD4 and CD8) expressing RANKL or expression of RANKL by MFI. CD4 and CD8 activation markers were not correlated with BMD at baseline (r<0.15 and P>0.09 for all), but greater declines in CD4 activation correlated with greater declines in hip and spine BMD in both arms (0.25 ≤r ≤0.37, all P<0.05). A greater decline in CD8 activation was correlated with greater declines in both hip and spine BMD in the placebo arm only (hip r=0.31, P=0.009; spine r=0.25, P=0.035).

Conclusions: Reductions in T-cell activation are characteristic of ART initiation, but only correlated modestly with bone loss. VitD/Ca supplementation does not appear to mitigate bone loss through modulation of immune activation or expression of RANKL.

Trial registration number: NCT01403051.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-HIV Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active
  • Biomarkers
  • Bone Resorption / drug therapy
  • Bone Resorption / immunology
  • CD4 Lymphocyte Count
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / complications
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunomodulation* / drug effects
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Biomarkers
  • Vitamin D

Associated data