Background/purpose Low vitamin D is common in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). It is also found in antiphospholipid syndrome. Vitamin D has effects on tissue factor, PAI-1, thrombomodulin and platelet aggregation that suggest it has an anti-thrombotic role. We asked whether low vitamin D was associated with thrombosis in SLE, adjusting for lupus anticoagulant.
Methods A total of 1,392 SLE patients were included in the analysis. At the first visit when vitamin D was measured, 76.7% had levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D<40 ng/mL. The SLE patients were: 92% female, mean age 42.9 years, and ethnicity 50% Caucasian, 41% African American. 27% patients had a history of thrombosis; 7% stroke, 4% MI and 14% DVT.
Results Vitamin D, measured either as a continuous variable or as ‘low’ (<40 ng/mL) vs normal, was associated with any thrombosis and with DVT.
We next looked prospectively: this analysis excluded thrombotic events before the first vitamin D measurement. It allowed for vitamin D to be a time-varying variable, as replacement therapy was given if it was low. After adjustment for race, age and sex, the adjusted hazard ratio remained significant for any thrombosis: 1.75 (1.04,2.92).
Conclusion Low vitamin D was significantly associated with any thrombosis and with DVT (even after adjustment for lupus anticoagulant). In prospective models it remained significantly associated with any thrombosis. As supplementation with vitamin D was proven to reduce thrombosis in an oncology randomised clinical trial, vitamin D replacement should become routine in SLE patients at risk for thrombosis.
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