A recent study published by the journal Springer found that vitamin D deficiency is independently associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infection.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is a bacterial infection that typically occurs in hospitals or health care settings. Infections range in severity from only affecting the skin or soft tissue to life threatening infections of the internal organs. MRSA is resistant to several strains of antibiotics, making it difficult to treat.
In recent years, vitamin D has gained attention for its pathological processes in a number of infections. Past research has determined vitamin D increases the production of antimicrobial peptides, the body’s naturally occurring antibiotics. Despite these findings, few studies have been conducted to investigate the association between vitamin D deficiency and MRSA infections.
In the current study, researchers aimed to determine if vitamin D deficiency is significantly associated with MRSA infections. A total of 6,405 patients who had their vitamin D levels tested at the Atlanta Veterans Affairs Medical Center (AVAMC) between January 2007 and August 2010 were included in the study. The patient’s vitamin D levels were cross referenced with a prospectively generated database of MRSA infections from October 2005 through December 2010.
Was vitamin D deficiency associated with the incidence of MRSA infections? Here is what the researchers found:
- A total of 6.3% of patients experienced MRSA infections, ranging from 1 to 5 times, during the study duration.
- Vitamin D deficiency was significantly associated with MRSA infected patients (p < 0.0001).
- The mean vitamin D levels of MRSA infected individuals was 21.1 ng/mL (52.75 nmol/L) compared to 24 ng/mL (60 nmol/L) in non-MRSA patients (p < 0.001)
- Those who experienced a MRSA infection within 150 days of their initial vitamin D testing had a mean vitamin D status of 19.6 ng/ml (49 nmol/L). This was considered to be significantly lower than the vitamin D status of non-MRSA infected patients (p = 0.0025).
- In a subgroup analysis of MRSA infected patients who experienced an infection within 150 days of their vitamin D testing, vitamin D deficiency ( < 20ng/ml; 50nmol/L) was determined as an independent risk factor for infection (OR: 2.25).
The researchers concluded:
“Our findings suggest that an independent association exists between vitamin D deficiency and MRSA infection in this cohort of patients.”
They went on to state:
“The association between vitamin D deficiency and MRSA infection is plausible since the roles that vitamin D plays in immunity are applicable in the defense against S. aureus.”
Although the researchers reported interesting findings, they also addressed some limitations of their study. There were several confounding variables unaccounted for, which decreased the strength of the results. Also, the data analyzed in the study provided the researchers with association only, not causality.
The researchers call for interventional studies in order to help determine if a causal relationship exists between vitamin D status and MRSA infections.
Citation of article:
Sturges, M. Recent study finds low vitamin D status is linked with MRSA infection. The Vitamin D Council Newsletter, 2015.