Background and objective: Vitamin D regulates the production of the antimicrobial peptides cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2, which play an important role in the innate immune response to infection. We hypothesized that vitamin D deficiency would be associated with lower levels of these peptides and worse outcomes in patients admitted to hospital with community acquired pneumonia.
Methods: Associations between mortality and serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, cathelicidin and beta-defensin-2 were investigated in a prospective cohort of 112 patients admitted with community acquired pneumonia during winter.
Results: Severe 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency (<30 nmol/L) was common in this population (15%) and was associated with a higher 30-day mortality compared with patients with sufficient 25-hydroxyvitamin D (>50 nmol/L) (odds ratio 12.7, 95% confidence interval: 2.2–73.3, P = 0.004). These associations were not explained by differences in age, comorbidities, or the severity of the acute illness. Neither cathelicidin nor beta-defensin-2 levels predicted mortality, although there was a trend towards increased mortality with lower cathelicidin (P = 0.053). Neither cathelicidin nor beta-defensin-2 levels correlated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
Conclusions: 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency is associated with increased mortality in patients admitted to hospital with community acquired pneumonia during winter. Contrary to our hypothesis, 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were not associated with levels of cathelicidin or beta-defensin-2.