Open Access Research article

Vitamin D levels are low in adult patients with sickle cell disease in Jamaica and West Africa

Bamidele O Tayo1*, Titilola S Akingbola2, Babatunde L Salako3, Colin A McKenzie4, Marvin Reid4, Jennifer Layden15, Ifeyinwa Osunkwo6, Jacob Plange-Rhule7, Amy Luke1, Ramon Durazo-Arvizu1 and Richard S Cooper1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health Sciences, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, 2160 S. First Ave, Maywood, IL 60153, USA

2 Department of Hematology, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

3 Department of Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria

4 Sickle Cell Unit, Tropical Medicine Research Institute, The University of the West Indies, Kingston, Jamaica

5 Department of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, IL, USA

6 Aflac Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders Service Comprehensive Sickle Cell Program of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Atlanta, GA, USA

7 Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

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BMC Hematology 2014, 14:12  doi:10.1186/2052-1839-14-12

Published: 16 August 2014

Abstract

Background

Patients with sickle cell disease in the USA have been noted to have lower levels of vitamin D – measured as 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) – compared to controls. Average serum 25(OH)D levels are also substantially lower in African Americans than whites, while population distributions of 25(OH)D among Jamaicans of African descent and West Africans are the same as among USA whites. The purpose of this study was to examine whether adult patients with sickle cell disease living in tropical regions had reduced 25(OH)D relative to the general population.

Methods

We analyzed serum 25(OH)D in stored samples collected from studies in Jamaica and West Africa of adult patients with sickle cell disease and adult population controls.

Results

In samples of 20 Jamaicans and 50 West Africans with sickle cell disease mean values of 25(OH)D were 37% and 39% lower than controls, respectively. Metabolic abnormalities in the absorption and conversion pathways are possible causes for the consistent relative deficiency of 25(OH)D in sickle cell disease.

Conclusions

Low 25(OH)D levels in tropical Africa where the burden of sickle cell disease is highest, deserve further investigation, and a randomized trial is warranted to address efficacy of supplementation.

Keywords:
Sickle cell disease; Sickle cell anemia; Vitamin D; 25-hydroxyvitamin D; Adult patients; Tropical Africa; Jamaica; West Africa