To Supplement or not to Supplement? The Rationale of Vitamin D Supplementation in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus

The Open Rheumatology Journal 27 December 2018 REVIEW ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874312901812010226



Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease characterised by abnormal activation of the immune system, chronic inflammation and organ damage. Lupus patients are more prone to be vitamin D deficient. However, current evidence is not conclusive with regards to the role played by vitamin D in SLE development, progression, and clinical manifestations.


Here, we will summarise the current knowledge about vitamin D deficiency prevalence, risk factors, molecular effects, and potential pathogenic role in SLE. We will focus on the link between vitamin D deficiency and lupus clinical manifestations, and on the clinical trials assessing the effects of vitamin D supplementation in SLE.


A detailed literature search was performed exploiting the available databases, using “vitamin D and lupus/SLE” as keywords. The relevant interventional trials published over the last decade have been considered and the results are reported here.


Several immune cells express vitamin D receptors. Thus, an immunomodulatory role for vitamin D in lupus is plausible. Numerous observational studies have investigated the relationship between vitamin D levels and clinical/serological manifestations of SLE with contrasting results. Negative correlations between vitamin D levels and disease activity, fatigue, renal and cardiovascular disease, and anti-dsDNA titres have been described but not conclusively accepted. In experimental models of lupus, vitamin D supplementation can improve the disease. Interventional trials have assessed the potential therapeutic value of vitamin D in SLE, but further larger studies are needed.

Keywords: Vitamin D, Lupus, Supplementation, Disease Activity, Immune System, Erythematosus.
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