Association between Vitamin D Deficiency and Antinuclear Antibodies in Middle-Aged and Older U.S. Adults

Helen C.S. Meier, Dale P. Sandler, Eleanor Marie Simonsick, Christine G. Parks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


BACKGROUND: Vitamin D deficiency is associated with cancer and autoimmune diseases, but little is known about the association between vitamin D and antinuclear antibodies (ANA), a biomarker of immune dysfunction in healthy populations. The objective of this study was to determine whether vitamin D deficiency is associated with ANA in middle-aged and older U.S. adults.

METHODS: A cross-sectional analysis using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2004 was conducted. Data were available for 1,012 adults aged 50 years and older. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were measured by radioimmunoassay. ANA was measured in a 1:80 dilution of sera by immunofluorescence using HEp-2 cells (seropositive = 3 or 4+).

RESULTS: Greater vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher ANA prevalence in the unadjusted (Ptrend = 0.0002) logistic regression model and after adjustment for sex, age, education, race/ethnicity, season, and NHANES cycle (Ptrend = 0.04). After adjustment, those with severe vitamin D deficiency (<10 ng/mL) had 2.99 (95% CI, 1.25-7.15) times the odds of ANA compared with having normal vitamin D levels (≥30 ng/mL), while deficient and insufficient individuals had twice the odds of ANA.

CONCLUSIONS: Among U.S. residents ages 50 and older, vitamin D deficiency was associated with higher prevalence of ANA. Vitamin D sufficiency may be important for preventing immune dysfunction in older populations.

IMPACT: Our findings support the growing evidence that vitamin D is an important immune modulator. Vitamin D deficiency in older adults may increase vulnerability to cancer by contributing to immune dysfunction. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 25(12); 1559-63.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1559-1563
Number of pages5
JournalCancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology

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