Vitamin D deficiency in patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria
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Background: The main symptom of patients with erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) is painful photosensitivity, starting within minutes of sun exposure and leading to sun-avoidance. As 80-100% of vitamin D is synthesized under the influence of sunlight, we investigated whether the avoidance of sunlight exposure in the Dutch EPP patient population causes vitamin D deficiency. Furthermore, we studied the relation between vitamin D levels, total erythrocyte protoporphyrin and quality of life. Methods: In a cross-sectional study of 48 Dutch EPP patients (mean age 41.4 years; range 16-77; 23 male, 25 female), we assessed serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels between June and November 2007, as well as total erythrocyte protoporphyrin (TEP) levels and Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) scores. Results: Mean serum 25(OH)D was 66 nmol/L (range 18-140, quartiles 36, 87). Twenty-two patients (46%; 15 male, 7 female) were vitamin D deficient. There was a significant difference (p = 0.029) in mean serum 25(OH)D between female (mean 75 nmol/L, range 18-140) and male patients (mean 55 nmol/L, range 18-115). The level of serum 25(OH)D showed a negative correlation with total erythrocyte protoporphyrin (TEP) (Pearson rank correlation (rp) = -0.337; p = 0.034). Serum 25(OH)D was inversely associated with scores of the Dermatology Life Quality Index (DLQI) (Spearman's rho correlation (rs) = -0.486; p = 0.001). Conclusions: The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency is high in the Dutch EPP population, especially in male patients, and correlates with the severity of EPP. Screening for and treatment of vitamin D deficiency should therefore be implemented in the care of these patients.