The inherent risk of developing tuberculosis (TB) in HIV- infected individuals is further enhanced by hypovitaminosis D. Interventions that offset HIV-associated immune deterioration potentially arrest disease progression and incidence of opportunistic infections including TB. Despite conflicting reports on association between vitamin D deficiency (VDD) and risk of TB, vitamin D (VD) supplementation remains a promising intervention.
We conducted a comparative cross-sectional study on 145 HIV+/pulmonary TB+ (PTB) and 139 HIV+/PTB− hospitalised patients to investigate association of vitamin D status and risk of PTB. Stratified random sampling was used to select archived serum specimens from participants enrolled in a randomised controlled trial (RCT) conducted to investigate the impact of using a point-of-care urine lipoarabinomannan strip test for TB diagnosis. PTB status was confirmed using sputum smear microscopy, culture or GeneXpert MTB/RIF. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH) D] concentrations were assayed by competitive chemiluminescent immunoassay prior to commencement of anti-TB treatment. Effect of VD status on duration of hospital stay and patient outcomes on follow up at 8 weeks were also investigated. Median serum 25(OH) D concentrations were compared using Mann-Whitney test and covariates of serum VD status were assessed using logistic regression analysis.
Overall VDD prevalence in the cohort was 40.9% (95% CI: 35.1–46.8). Median serum 25(OH)D concentrations were significantly higher in HIV+/PTB+ group (25.3 ng/ml, IQR:18.0–33.7) compared to the HIV+/PTB− group (20.4 ng/ml, IQR:14.6–26.9), p = 0.0003. Patients with serum 25(OH) D concentration ≥ 30 ng/ml were 1.9 times more likely to be PTB+ compared to those with serum 25(OH) D concentrations < 30 ng/ml (odds ratio (OR) 1.91; 95% CI 1.1–3.2). PTB-related death was associated with higher odds of having 25(OH) D levels≥30 ng/ml. Age, gender, CD4+ count, combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) status, efavirenz based cART regimen and length of hospital stay were not associated with vitamin D status.
The finding of an association between higher serum 25(OH) D concentrations and active PTB and TB-related mortality among hospitalised HIV-infected patients in the present study is at variance with the commonly reported association of hypovitaminosis and susceptibility to TB. Our findings though, are in concordance with a small pool of reports from other settings.