PloS one

Vitamin D Status in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Inflammation, Arterial Stiffness and Circulating Progenitor Cell Number.

PMID 26241902


Suboptimal vitamin D status was recently acknowledged as an independent predictor of cardiovascular diseases and all-cause mortality in several clinical settings, and its serum levels are commonly reduced in Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA). Patients affected by RA present accelerated atherosclerosis and increased cardiovascular morbidity and mortality with respect to the general population. In RA, it has been reported an impairment of the number and the activity of circulating proangiogenic haematopoietic cells (PHCs), including CD34+, that may play a role in endothelial homeostasis. The purpose of the study is to investigate the association between vitamin D levels and PHCs, inflammatory markers, and arterial stiffening in patients with RA. CD34+ cells were isolated from 27 RA patients and 41 controls. Vitamin D levels, C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, pulse wave velocity (PWV), and carotid intima-media thickness (cIMT) were also evaluated. CD34+ count and vitamin D levels were lower in RA patients as compared to controls, while fibrinogen, CRP, PWV and cIMT were higher in RA patients. CD34+ cell number appeared to be associated with vitamin D levels, and negatively correlated to fibrinogen and early atherosclerosis markers (PWV and cIMT); vitamin D levels appear also to be inversely associated to fibrinogen. RA patients with moderate disease activity presented with low vitamin D levels, low CD34+ cell count, increased PWV and cIMT; we found that vitamin D deficiency is associated to CD34+ cell reduction in peripheral blood, and with fibrinogen levels. This suggests that vitamin D might contribute to endothelial homeostasis in patients with RA.