Background: We aimed to establish an acute treatment protocol to increase serum vitamin D, evaluate the effectiveness of vitamin D3 supplementation, and reveal the potential mechanisms in COVID-19.
Methods: We retrospectively analyzed the data of 867 COVID-19 cases. Then, a prospective study was conducted, including 23 healthy individuals and 210 cases. A total of 163 cases had vitamin D supplementation, and 95 were followed for 14 days. Clinical outcomes, routine blood biomarkers, serum levels of vitamin D metabolism, and action mechanism-related parameters were evaluated.
Results: Our treatment protocol increased the serum 25OHD levels significantly to above 30 ng/mL within two weeks. COVID-19 cases (no comorbidities, no vitamin D treatment, 25OHD <30 ng/mL) had 1.9-fold increased risk of having hospitalization longer than 8 days compared with the cases with comorbidities and vitamin D treatment. Having vitamin D treatment decreased the mortality rate by 2.14 times. The correlation analysis of specific serum biomarkers with 25OHD indicated that the vitamin D action in COVID-19 might involve regulation of INOS1, IL1B, IFNg, cathelicidin-LL37, and ICAM1.
Conclusions: Vitamin D treatment shortened hospital stay and decreased mortality in COVID-19 cases, even in the existence of comorbidities. Vitamin D supplementation is effective on various target parameters; therefore, it is essential for COVID-19 treatment.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; acute respiratory failure; cathelicidin-LL37; cytokine; vitamin D.