A recent observational study in China suggests a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 severity and mortality. The study, which examined 399 hospitalized COVID-19 patients, found that patients with vitamin D deficiency had a higher likelihood of severe symptoms and a greater risk of death.
Researchers also explored the role of interleukin-5 (IL-5) and eosinophil (Eos) levels in predicting COVID-19 outcomes. They discovered that patients with vitamin D deficiency had significantly higher levels of IL-5, an inflammatory cytokine. Conversely, Eos levels were highest in patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms and lowest in critically ill patients or those who had succumbed to the virus. Eosinophils are white blood cells that support the immune system.
Patients in the study were categorized based on their vitamin D status (normal, insufficient, or deficient) and their subsequent COVID-19 outcomes (general, severe, critical, or deceased). Serum 25(OH)D levels were lowest in patients who died from COVID-19, with levels significantly lower than those in the other groups. The study identified a 25(OH)D level of less than 36.04 ng/mL as predictive of COVID-19 mortality.
Interestingly, the predictability of COVID-19 mortality improved when considering serum 25(OH)D levels, IL-5 levels, and Eos counts together. Combining a 25(OH)D level of less than 36.04 ng/mL with an IL-5 level of more than 1.70 pg/mL and an Eos count of less than 0.015 provided a better predictive value for COVID-19-related death.
The study found that nearly four out of five patients (77.4%) were vitamin D deficient, 15.3% had insufficient vitamin D, and only 7.3% had normal vitamin D levels.
While the study suggests a potential link between vitamin D deficiency and COVID-19 severity, researchers emphasize the need for further exploration of the underlying mechanisms. Vitamin D, IL-5, and Eos levels together may serve as valuable predictors of early COVID-19-related mortality, but additional research is required to fully understand the relationship.