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Vitamin D deficiency may increase rejection rates in lung transplant patients

May 3, 2012

According to a new US study, low blood vitamin D levels seem to be associated with increased rejection and infections after lung transplantation.

In the study, blood vitamin D concentrations of 102 patients who underwent a lung transplant were measured within 100 days prior to or following surgery (1). At the beginning of the study twenty-one patients had normal vitamin D levels and 81 were deficient. After surgery the rejection rate in the deficient group was more than double that of the non-deficient group. Infections also were more frequent in the deficient group than in the non-deficient group. In addition, the mortality rate of vitamin D deficient patients one year after transplant was nearly five times higher than those who were not deficient.

The researchers concluded that given the high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in lung transplant patients and the growing evidence that this micronutrient helps the immune system tolerate the organ, optimal levels of vitamin D are critical for positive outcomes in these patients. Thus, all vitamin D deficient patients should receive supplements to normalize blood levels prior to lung transplant.

References

  1. Lowery E. M. et al. Low vitamin D levels are associated with increased rejection and infections after lung transplantation. The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation. Published online April 2012.