Low Vitamin D Linked to Greater Hepatitis B Virus Replication


Low blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were strongly associated with higher hepatitis B virus (HBV) viral load in a study of more than 200 untreated patients described in the May 22, 2013 advance online edition of Hepatology.

Vitamin D has multiple functions in the body, including effects on immune response and metabolism, but prior studies have yielded conflicting data about its role in specific diseases.

Harald Farnik from JW Goethe University in Frankfurt and colleagues measured serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D -- or 25(OH)D3 -- in 203 treatment-naive chronic hepatitis B patients who had not yet received antiviral therapy.


"Low 25(OH)D3 serum levels are associated with high levels of HBV replication in patients with chronic hepatitis B," the study authors concluded.

"Inverse seasonal fluctuations of 25(OH)D3 and HBV DNA serum levels are suggestive for a functional relationship between both variables," they added, but stressed that correlation does not necessarily imply causation.

"This represents a major difference to chronic hepatitis C," for which numerous previous studies have shown a lack of correlation between HCV viral load and vitamin D levels, they noted.



H Farnik, J Bojunga, A Berger, et al. Low vitamin D serum concentration is associated with high levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication in chronically infected patients. Hepatology. May 22, 2013 (Epub ahead of print).