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1.  Vitamin D status and its association with season, hospital and sepsis mortality in critical illness 
Critical Care  2014;18(2):R47.
Introduction
Vitamin D plays a key role in immune function. Deficiency may aggravate the incidence and outcome of infectious complications in critically ill patients. We aimed to evaluate the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the correlation between serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH) D) and hospital mortality, sepsis mortality and blood culture positivity.
Methods
In a single-center retrospective observational study at a tertiary care center in Graz, Austria, 655 surgical and nonsurgical critically ill patients with available 25(OH) D levels hospitalized between September 2008 and May 2010 were included. Cox regression analysis adjusted for age, gender, severity of illness, renal function and inflammatory status was performed. Vitamin D levels were categorized by month-specific tertiles (high, intermediate, low) to reflect seasonal variation of serum 25(OH) D levels.
Results
Overall, the majority of patients were vitamin D deficient (<20 ng/ml; 60.2%) or insufficient (≥20 and <30 ng/dl; 26.3%), with normal 25(OH) D levels (>30 ng/ml) present in only 13.6%. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and mean 25(OH) D levels was significantly different in winter compared to summer months (P <0.001). Hospital mortality was 20.6% (135 of 655 patients). Adjusted hospital mortality was significantly higher in patients in the low (hazard ratio (HR) 2.05, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.31 to 3.22) and intermediate (HR 1.92, 95% CI 1.21 to 3.06) compared to the high tertile. Sepsis was identified as cause of death in 20 of 135 deceased patients (14.8%). There was no significant association between 25(OH) D and C-reactive protein (CRP), leukocyte count or procalcitonin levels. In a subgroup analysis (n = 244), blood culture positivity rates did not differ between tertiles (23.1% versus 28.2% versus 17.1%, P = 0.361).
Conclusions
Low 25(OH) D status is significantly associated with mortality in the critically ill. Intervention studies are needed to investigate the effect of vitamin D substitution on mortality and sepsis rates in this population.
doi:10.1186/cc13790
PMCID: PMC4057427  PMID: 24661739
2.  Correction of vitamin D deficiency in critically ill patients - VITdAL@ICU study protocol of a double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial 
Background
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with multiple adverse health outcomes including increased morbidity and mortality in the general population and in critically ill patients. However, no randomized controlled trial has evaluated so far whether treatment with sufficiently large doses of vitamin D can improve clinical outcome of patients in an intensive care setting.
Methods/design
The VITdAL@ICU trial is an investigator-initiated, non-commercial, double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized clinical trial. This study compares high-dose oral cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) versus placebo treatment in a mixed population of 480 critically ill patients with low 25-hydroxyvitamin-D levels at study enrollment (≤ 20ng/ml). Following an initial loading dose of 540,000 IU of vitamin D3, patients receive 90,000 IU of vitamin D3 on a monthly basis for 5 months. The study is designed to compare clinical outcome in the two study arms with the primary endpoint being length of hospital stay. Secondary endpoints include among others length of ICU stay, the percentage of patients with 25(OH)D levels > 30 ng/ml at day 7, ICU and hospital mortality and duration of mechanical ventilation. We describe here the VITdAL@ICU study protocol for the primary report.
Discussion
This trial is designed to evaluate whether high-dose vitamin D3 is able to improve morbidity and mortality in a mixed population of adult critically ill patients and correct vitamin D deficiency safely.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials: NCT01130181
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-12-27
PMCID: PMC3534412  PMID: 23134762
Critical Illness; Vitamin D deficiency; Cholecalciferol; Vitamin D; Critical care; Intensive care; Vitamin D3
3.  Short-term effects of high-dose oral vitamin D3 in critically ill vitamin D deficient patients: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study 
Critical Care  2011;15(2):R104.
Introduction
Vitamin D deficiency is encountered frequently in critically ill patients and might be harmful. Current nutrition guidelines recommend very low vitamin D doses. The objective of this trial was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of a single oral high-dose vitamin D3 supplementation in an intensive care setting over a one-week observation period.
Methods
This was a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study in a medical ICU at a tertiary care university center in Graz, Austria. Twenty-five patients (mean age 62 ± 16yrs) with vitamin D deficiency [25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) ≤20 ng/ml] and an expected stay in the ICU >48 hours were included and randomly received either 540,000 IU (corresponding to 13.5 mg) of cholecalciferol (VITD) dissolved in 45 ml herbal oil or matched placebo (PBO) orally or via feeding tube.
Results
The mean serum 25(OH)D increase in the intervention group was 25 ng/ml (range 1-47 ng/ml). The highest 25(OH)D level reached was 64 ng/ml, while two patients showed a small (7 ng/ml) or no response (1 ng/ml). Hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria did not occur in any patient. From day 0 to day 7, total serum calcium levels increased by 0.10 (PBO) and 0.15 mmol/L (VITD; P < 0.05 for both), while ionized calcium levels increased by 0.11 (PBO) and 0.05 mmol/L (VITD; P < 0.05 for both). Parathyroid hormone levels decreased by 19 and 28 pg/ml (PBO and VITD, ns) over the seven days, while 1,25(OH)D showed a transient significant increase in the VITD group only.
Conclusions
This pilot study shows that a single oral ultra-high dose of cholecalciferol corrects vitamin D deficiency within 2 days in most patients without causing adverse effects like hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria. Further research is needed to confirm our results and establish whether vitamin D supplementation can affect the clinical outcome of vitamin D deficient critically ill patients.
EudraCT Number
2009-012080-34
German Clinical Trials Register (DRKS)
DRKS00000750
doi:10.1186/cc10120
PMCID: PMC3219377  PMID: 21443793
4.  Graz Endocrine Causes of Hypertension (GECOH) study: a diagnostic accuracy study of aldosterone to active renin ratio in screening for primary aldosteronism 
Background
Primary aldosteronism (PA) affects approximately 5 to 10% of all patients with arterial hypertension and is associated with an excess rate of cardiovascular complications that can be significantly reduced by a targeted treatment. There exists a general consensus that the aldosterone to renin ratio should be used as a screening tool but valid data about the accuracy of the aldosterone to renin ratio in screening for PA are sparse. In the Graz endocrine causes of hypertension (GECOH) study we aim to prospectively evaluate diagnostic procedures for PA.
Methods and design
In this single center, diagnostic accuracy study we will enrol 400 patients that are routinely referred to our tertiary care center for screening for endocrine hypertension. We will determine the aldosterone to active renin ratio (AARR) as a screening test. In addition, all study participants will have a second determination of the AARR and will undergo a saline infusion test (SIT) as a confirmatory test. PA will be diagnosed in patients with at least one AARR of ≥ 5.7 ng/dL/ng/L (including an aldosterone concentration of ≥ 9 ng/dL) who have an aldosterone level of ≥ 10 ng/dL after the saline infusion test. As a primary outcome we will calculate the receiver operating characteristic curve of the AARR in diagnosing PA. Secondary outcomes include the test characteristics of the saline infusion test involving a comparison with 24 hours urine aldosterone levels and the accuracy of the aldosterone to renin activity ratio in diagnosing PA. In addition we will evaluate whether the use of beta-blockers significantly alters the accuracy of the AARR and we will validate our laboratory methods for aldosterone and renin.
Conclusion
Screening for PA with subsequent targeted treatment is of great potential benefit for hypertensive patients. In the GECOH study we will evaluate a standardised procedure for screening and diagnosing of this disease.
doi:10.1186/1472-6823-9-11
PMCID: PMC2671510  PMID: 19351411

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