Asthma in the elderly: A study of the role of vitamin D

Michele Columbo, Reynold A. Panettieri, Albert S. Rohr

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16 Scopus citations


Background: Asthma in the elderly is poorly understood and vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency are very common in older individuals. We studied the role of vitamin D in elderly asthmatics. Methods: Asthmatics subjects, age 65 and older, were followed every 4 weeks for 12 weeks in the late fall and winter. During the study period they took 2,000 I.U. vitamin D3 daily. Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D and calcium were measured at baseline and study end. Results: Twenty nine percent of subjects were deficient and 50% insufficient in serum vitamin D at baseline. Serum vitamin D increased from 24.3±9.2 ng/ml (60.7±23 nmol/L) to 34±7.1 ng/ml (84.9±17.7 nmol/L) at the end of the study (p<0.001), whereas calcium was unchanged. We found no significant association between vitamin D and subjects' demographics. Vitamin D was similar in men and women. There was no association between serum vitamin D and inhaled steroid dose. Vitamin D was significantly lower in subjects with uncontrolled asthma (Asthma Control Test, ACT=19) compared to the ones with well controlled symptoms (p<0.05). In subjects with uncontrolled asthma at baseline, ACT scores increased significantly at the end of the study (p<0.04), but not at 4 and 8 weeks. Spirometric values remained unchanged throughout the study. Conclusions: Elderly asthmatics very commonly have vitamin D deficiency or insufficiency. Serum vitamin D levels were lower in subjects with uncontrolled asthma. In these subjects, vitamin D supplementation for 12 weeks led to improved ACT scores. Larger, randomized, placebo controlled studies are required to further evaluate whether vitamin D supplementation may improve asthma symptoms in this population. Trial registration: NCT01730976.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number48
JournalAllergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine

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