Observational studies and randomised controlled studies suggest that vitamin D plays a role in the prevention of acute respiratory tract infection (ARTI); however, findings are inconsistent and the optimal serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) concentration remains unclear. To review the link between 25(OH)D concentration and ARTI, we searched PubMed and EMBASE databases to identify observational studies reporting the association between 25(OH)D concentration and risk or severity of ARTI. We used random-effects meta-analysis to pool findings across studies. Twenty-four studies were included in the review, 14 were included in the meta-analysis of ARTI risk and five in the meta-analysis of severity. Serum 25(OH)D concentration was inversely associated with risk and severity of ARTI; pooled odds ratios (95% confidence interval) were 1.83 (1.42-2.37) and 2.46 (1.65-3.66), respectively, comparing the lowest with the highest 25(OH)D category. For each 10 nmol/L decrease in 25(OH)D concentration, the odds of ARTI increased by 1.02 (0.97-1.07). This was a non-linear trend, with the sharpest increase in risk of ARTI occurring at 25(OH)D concentration < 37.5 nmol/L. In conclusion, there is an inverse non-linear association between 25(OH)D concentration and ARTI.
Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; acute infection; meta-analysis; observational studies; respiratory infection; systematic review; vitamin D.