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1.  Circulating Levels of 25Hydroxy-Vitamin D and Risk of Cardiovascular Disease: A Meta-Analysis of Prospective Studies 
Background
Vitamin D status has been linked to the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, the optimal 25hydroxy-vitamin D (25(OH)-vitamin D) levels for potential cardiovascular health benefits remain unclear.
Methods and Results
We searched MEDLINE and EMBASE from 1966 through February 2012 for prospective studies that assessed the association of 25(OH)-vitamin D concentrations with CVD risk. A total of 24 articles met our inclusion criteria, from which 19 independent studies with 6,123 CVD cases in 65,994 participants were included for a meta-analysis. Comparing the lowest to the highest 25(OH)-vitamin D categories, the pooled relative risks (RR) was 1.52 (95% CI: 1.30-1.77) for total CVD, 1.42 (95% CI: 1.19-1.71) for CVD mortality, 1.38 (95% CI: 1.21-1.57) for coronary heart disease, and 1.64 (95% CI: 1.27-2.10) for stroke. These associations remained strong and significant when analyses were limited to studies that excluded participants with baseline CVD and had better controlled for season and confounding. We used a fractional polynomial spline regression analysis to assess the linearity of dose-response association between continuous 25(OH)-vitamin D and CVD risk. The CVD risk increased monotonically across decreasing 25(OH)-vitamin D below approximately 60 nmol/L, with a RR of 1.03 (95% CI: 1.00-1.06) per 25 nmol/L decrement in 25(OH)-vitamin D.
Conclusions
This meta-analysis demonstrated a generally linear, inverse association between circulating 25(OH)-vitamin D in the range of 20-60 nmol/L and risk of CVD. Further research is needed to clarify the association of 25(OH)-vitamin D higher than 60 nmol/L with CVD risk and assess causality of the observed associations.
doi:10.1161/CIRCOUTCOMES.112.967604
PMCID: PMC3510675  PMID: 23149428
25hydroxy-vitamin D; cardiovascular disease; meta-analysis; prospective study
2.  Circulating Dopamine and C-Peptide Levels in Fasting Nondiabetic Hypertensive Patients 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(8):1771-1773.
OBJECTIVE
Accumulating evidence supports a potential role for dopamine in the regulation of insulin secretion. We examined the association between circulating dopamine and C-peptide concentrations using data from the Graz Endocrine Causes of Hypertension (GECOH) study.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
After 12 h of fasting, we measured plasma dopamine and serum C-peptide levels and established determining factors of insulin secretion in 201 nondiabetic hypertensive patients (mean age 48.1 ± 16.0 years; 61.7% women).
RESULTS
Mean dopamine and C-peptide concentration were 33.4 ± 38.6 pg/mL and 3.1 ± 2.7 ng/mL, respectively. A strong and inverse correlation was observed between dopamine and C-peptide levels (r = −0.423, P < 0.001). There was no significant relationship between C-peptide, plasma epinephrine, and norepinephrine. C-peptide levels decreased steadily and significantly from tertile 1 of dopamine (3.6 ng/mL [95% CI 2.9–4.1]) to tertile 3 (1.6 ng/mL [1.5–2.7], P < 0.001) after multivariate adjustment.
CONCLUSIONS
The inverse association between dopamine and C-peptide highlights the need to evaluate whether dopamine could be effective for modulating endocrine pancreatic function.
doi:10.2337/dc11-2384
PMCID: PMC3402263  PMID: 22699284
3.  Homoarginine and Progression of Chronic Kidney Disease: Results from the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e63560.
Background
Homoarginine is an amino acid derivative mainly synthesized in the kidney. It is suggested to increase nitric oxide availability, enhance endothelial function and to protect against cardiovascular diseases. We aimed to investigate the relation between homoarginine, kidney function and progression of chronic kidney disease (CKD).
Methods
We measured plasma homoarginine concentrations in baseline samples of the Mild to Moderate Kidney Disease (MMKD) Study, a prospective cohort study of 227 patients with CKD in Europe. Homoarginine concentrations were available in 182 of the baseline samples and in 139 of the prospectively-followed patients. We correlated homoarginine concentrations to parameters of kidney function. The association between homoarginine and progression of CKD was assessed during a follow-up of up to seven years (median 4.45 years, interquartile range 2.54–5.19) using Cox regression analysis. Progression of CKD was defined as doubling of baseline serum creatinine and/or end-stage renal disease.
Results
Study participants were at baseline on average 47±13 years old and 65% were male. Mean±standard deviation of homoarginine concentrations were 2.5±1.1 µmol/L and concentrations were incrementally lower at lower levels of GFR with mean concentrations of 2.90±1.02 µmol/L (GFR>90 ml/min), 2.64±1.06 µmol/L (GFR 60–90 ml/min), 2.52±1.24 µmol/L (GFR 30–60 ml/min) and 2.05±0.78 µmol/L (GFR<30 ml/min), respectively (p = 0.002). The age- and sex-adjusted risk to reach the renal endpoint was significantly higher by 62% with each decrease by one standard deviation (1.1 µmol/L) of homoarginine (HR 1.62, 95% CI 1.16–2.27, p = 0.005). This association was independent of proteinuria (HR 1.56, 95% CI 1.11–2.20, p = 0.01), and was slightly attenuated when adjusting for GFR (HR 1.40 (95% CI 0.98–1.98, p = 0.06).
Conclusions
Homoarginine concentrations are directly correlated with kidney function and are significantly associated with the progression of CKD. Low homoarginine concentrations might be an early indicator of kidney failure and a potential target for the prevention of disease progression which needs further investigations.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0063560
PMCID: PMC3655120  PMID: 23691067
4.  Vitamin D Levels Predict All-Cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality in Subjects With the Metabolic Syndrome 
Diabetes Care  2012;35(5):1158-1164.
OBJECTIVE
Optimal vitamin D levels are associated with reduced cardiovascular and all-cause mortality. We investigated whether optimal 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) is protective in individuals with the metabolic syndrome.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
The Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health (LURIC) study is a cohort study of subjects referred for coronary angiography between 1997 and 2000, from which 1,801 with the metabolic syndrome were investigated. Mortality was tracked for a median of 7.7 years. Multivariable survival analysis was used to estimate the association between 25(OH)D levels and mortality.
RESULTS
Most subjects (92%) had suboptimal levels of 25(OH)D (<75 nmol/L), with 22.2% being severely deficient (<25 nmol/L). During follow-up, 462 deaths were recorded, 267 (57.8%) of which were cardiovascular in origin. After full adjustment, including the metabolic syndrome components, those with optimal 25(OH)D levels showed a substantial reduction in all-cause (hazard ratio [HR] 0.25 [95% CI 0.13–0.46]) and cardiovascular disease mortality (0.33 [0.16–0.66]) compared with those with severe vitamin D deficiency. For specific cardiovascular disease mortality, there was a strong reduction for sudden death (0.15 [0.04–0.63]) and congestive heart failure (0.24 [0.06–1.04]), but not for myocardial infarction. The reduction in mortality was dose-dependent for each of these causes.
CONCLUSIONS
Optimal 25(OH)D levels substantially lowered all-cause and cardiovascular disease mortality in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. These observations call for interventional studies that test whether vitamin D supplementation provides a useful adjunct in reducing mortality in these subjects.
doi:10.2337/dc11-1714
PMCID: PMC3329808  PMID: 22399697
5.  Causal Relationship between Obesity and Vitamin D Status: Bi-Directional Mendelian Randomization Analysis of Multiple Cohorts 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001383.
A mendelian randomization study based on data from multiple cohorts conducted by Karani Santhanakrishnan Vimaleswaran and colleagues re-examines the causal nature of the relationship between vitamin D levels and obesity.
Background
Obesity is associated with vitamin D deficiency, and both are areas of active public health concern. We explored the causality and direction of the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] using genetic markers as instrumental variables (IVs) in bi-directional Mendelian randomization (MR) analysis.
Methods and Findings
We used information from 21 adult cohorts (up to 42,024 participants) with 12 BMI-related SNPs (combined in an allelic score) to produce an instrument for BMI and four SNPs associated with 25(OH)D (combined in two allelic scores, separately for genes encoding its synthesis or metabolism) as an instrument for vitamin D. Regression estimates for the IVs (allele scores) were generated within-study and pooled by meta-analysis to generate summary effects.
Associations between vitamin D scores and BMI were confirmed in the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium (n = 123,864). Each 1 kg/m2 higher BMI was associated with 1.15% lower 25(OH)D (p = 6.52×10−27). The BMI allele score was associated both with BMI (p = 6.30×10−62) and 25(OH)D (−0.06% [95% CI −0.10 to −0.02], p = 0.004) in the cohorts that underwent meta-analysis. The two vitamin D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D (p≤8.07×10−57 for both scores) but not with BMI (synthesis score, p = 0.88; metabolism score, p = 0.08) in the meta-analysis. A 10% higher genetically instrumented BMI was associated with 4.2% lower 25(OH)D concentrations (IV ratio: −4.2 [95% CI −7.1 to −1.3], p = 0.005). No association was seen for genetically instrumented 25(OH)D with BMI, a finding that was confirmed using data from the GIANT consortium (p≥0.57 for both vitamin D scores).
Conclusions
On the basis of a bi-directional genetic approach that limits confounding, our study suggests that a higher BMI leads to lower 25(OH)D, while any effects of lower 25(OH)D increasing BMI are likely to be small. Population level interventions to reduce BMI are expected to decrease the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Obesity—having an unhealthy amount of body fat—is increasing worldwide. In the US, for example, a third of the adult population is now obese. Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI, an indicator of body fat calculated by dividing a person's weight in kilograms by their height in meters squared) of more than 30.0 kg/m2. Although there is a genetic contribution to obesity, people generally become obese by consuming food and drink that contains more energy than they need for their daily activities. Thus, obesity can be prevented by having a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Compared to people with a healthy weight, obese individuals have an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and tend to die younger. They also have a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency, another increasingly common public health concern. Vitamin D, which is essential for healthy bones as well as other functions, is made in the skin after exposure to sunlight but can also be obtained through the diet and through supplements.
Why Was This Study Done?
Observational studies cannot prove that obesity causes vitamin D deficiency because obese individuals may share other characteristics that reduce their circulating 25-hydroxy vitamin D [25(OH)D] levels (referred to as confounding). Moreover, observational studies cannot indicate whether the larger vitamin D storage capacity of obese individuals (vitamin D is stored in fatty tissues) lowers their 25(OH)D levels or whether 25(OH)D levels influence fat accumulation (reverse causation). If obesity causes vitamin D deficiency, monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency might alleviate some of the adverse health effects of obesity. Conversely, if low vitamin D levels cause obesity, encouraging people to take vitamin D supplements might help to control the obesity epidemic. Here, the researchers use bi-directional “Mendelian randomization” to examine the direction and causality of the relationship between BMI and 25(OH)D. In Mendelian randomization, causality is inferred from associations between genetic variants that mimic the influence of a modifiable environmental exposure and the outcome of interest. Because gene variants do not change over time and are inherited randomly, they are not prone to confounding and are free from reverse causation. Thus, if a lower vitamin D status leads to obesity, genetic variants associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations should be associated with higher BMI, and if obesity leads to a lower vitamin D status, then genetic variants associated with higher BMI should be associated with lower 25(OH)D concentrations.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers created a “BMI allele score” based on 12 BMI-related gene variants and two “25(OH)D allele scores,” which are based on gene variants that affect either 25(OH)D synthesis or breakdown. Using information on up to 42,024 participants from 21 studies, the researchers showed that the BMI allele score was associated with both BMI and with 25(OH)D levels among the study participants. Based on this information, they calculated that each 10% increase in BMI will lead to a 4.2% decrease in 25(OH)D concentrations. By contrast, although both 25(OH)D allele scores were strongly associated with 25(OH)D levels, neither score was associated with BMI. This lack of an association between 25(OH)D allele scores and obesity was confirmed using data from more than 100,000 individuals involved in 46 studies that has been collected by the GIANT (Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits) consortium.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that a higher BMI leads to a lower vitamin D status whereas any effects of low vitamin D status on BMI are likely to be small. That is, these findings provide evidence for obesity as a causal factor in the development of vitamin D deficiency but not for vitamin D deficiency as a causal factor in the development of obesity. These findings suggest that population-level interventions to reduce obesity should lead to a reduction in the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and highlight the importance of monitoring and treating vitamin D deficiency as a means of alleviating the adverse influences of obesity on health.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on all aspects of overweight and obesity (in English and Spanish); a data brief provides information about the vitamin D status of the US population
The World Health Organization provides information on obesity (in several languages)
The UK National Health Service Choices website provides detailed information about obesity and a link to a personal story about losing weight; it also provides information about vitamin D
The International Obesity Taskforce provides information about the global obesity epidemic
The US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov website provides a personal healthy eating plan; the Weight-control Information Network is an information service provided for the general public and health professionals by the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (in English and Spanish)
The US Office of Dietary Supplements provides information about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
MedlinePlus has links to further information about obesity and about vitamin D (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on Mendelian randomization (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Overview and details of the collaborative large-scale genetic association study (D-CarDia) provide information about vitamin D and the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and related traits
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383
PMCID: PMC3564800  PMID: 23393431
7.  Aldosterone and cortisol affect the risk of sudden cardiac death in haemodialysis patients 
European Heart Journal  2012;34(8):578-587.
Background
Sudden cardiac death is common and accounts largely for the excess mortality of patients on maintenance dialysis. It is unknown whether aldosterone and cortisol increase the incidence of sudden cardiac death in dialysis patients.
Methods and results
We analysed data from 1255 diabetic haemodialysis patients participating in the German Diabetes and Dialysis Study (4D Study). Categories of aldosterone and cortisol were determined at baseline and patients were followed for a median of 4 years. By Cox regression analyses, hazard ratios (HRs) were determined for the effect of aldosterone, cortisol, and their combination on sudden death and other adjudicated cardiovascular outcomes. The mean age of the patients was 66 ± 8 years (54% male). Median aldosterone was <15 pg/mL (detection limit) and cortisol 16.8 µg/dL. Patients with aldosterone levels >200 pg/mL had a significantly higher risk of sudden death (HR: 1.69; 95% CI: 1.06–2.69) compared with those with an aldosterone <15 pg/mL. The combined presence of high aldosterone (>200 pg/mL) and high cortisol (>21.1 µg/dL) levels increased the risk of sudden death in striking contrast to patients with low aldosterone (<15 pg/mL) and low cortisol (<13.2 µg/dL) levels (HR: 2.86, 95% CI: 1.32–6.21). Furthermore, all-cause mortality was significantly increased in the patients with high levels of both hormones (HR: 1.62, 95% CI: 1.01–2.62).
Conclusions
The joint presence of high aldosterone and high cortisol levels is strongly associated with sudden cardiac death as well as all-cause mortality in haemodialysed type 2 diabetic patients. Whether a blockade of the mineralocorticoid receptor decreases the risk of sudden death in these patients must be examined in future trials.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehs361
PMCID: PMC3578266  PMID: 23211232
Aldosterone; Cortisol; Sudden cardiac death; Cardiovascular events; Mortality; Kidney disease
8.  Low Free Testosterone Levels Are Associated With All-Cause and Cardiovascular Mortality in Postmenopausal Diabetic Women 
Diabetes Care  2011;34(8):1771-1777.
OBJECTIVE
Hyperandrogenemia is associated with cardiovascular risk factors in women but evidence about the relationship of testosterone levels with mortality is sparse. We aimed to evaluate whether total testosterone (TT), free testosterone (FT), and sex hormone–binding globulin (SHBG) are associated with all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a cohort of postmenopausal women.
RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS
We measured TT and SHBG levels in 875 postmenopausal women who were referred for coronary angiography (during 1997–2000). FT was calculated according to the Vermeulen method. The main outcome measures were Cox proportional hazard ratios (HRs) for mortality from all causes and from cardiovascular causes.
RESULTS
After a median follow-up time of 7.7 years, 179 women (20.5%) had died. There were 101 deaths due to cardiovascular disease (56.4% of all deaths). We found no association of FT, TT, and SHBG levels with mortality in all postmenopausal women. In postmenopausal diabetic women, multivariable-adjusted HRs (with 95% CIs) in the fourth compared with the first FT quartile for all-cause and cardiovascular mortality were 0.38 (0.08–0.90), P = 0.025, and 0.28 (0.08–0.90), P = 0.032, respectively. We found no association of TT and SHBG with mortality in diabetic postmenopausal women.
CONCLUSIONS
In postmenopausal diabetic women referred for coronary angiography, low FT levels are independently associated with increased all-cause and cardiovascular mortality.
doi:10.2337/dc11-0596
PMCID: PMC3142041  PMID: 21715525
9.  Homoarginine, heart failure, and sudden cardiac death in haemodialysis patients 
European Journal of Heart Failure  2011;13(8):852-859.
Aims
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is a major contributor to the excess mortality of patients on maintenance dialysis. Homoarginine deficiency may lead to decreased nitric oxide availability and endothelial dysfunction. Based on this rationale we assessed whether homoarginine deficiency is a risk factor for SCD in dialysis patients.
Methods and results
This study examined the association of homoarginine with cardiovascular outcomes in 1255 diabetic haemodialysis patients from the German diabetes and dialysis study. During a median of 4 years of follow-up, hazard ratios (HR) (95% CI) for reaching the following pre-specified, adjudicated endpoints were determined: SCD, myocardial infarction, stroke, death due to heart failure, and combined cardiovascular events. There was a strong association of low homoarginine concentrations with the presence of congestive heart failure and left ventricular hypertrophy as well as increased levels of brain natriuretic peptide. Per unit decrease in homoarginine, the risk of SCD increased three-fold (HR 3.1, 95% CI 2.0–4.9), attenuating slightly in multivariate models (HR 2.4; 95% CI 1.5–3.9). Patients in the lowest homoarginine quintile experienced a more than two-fold increased risk of SCD, and more than three-fold increased risk of heart failure death than patients in the highest quintile, which accounted for the high incidence of combined cardiovascular events. Low homoarginine showed a trend towards increased risk of stroke, however, myocardial infarction was not meaningfully affected.
Conclusion
Low homoarginine is a strong risk factor for SCD and death due to heart failure in haemodialysis patients. Further studies are needed to elucidate the underlying mechanisms, offering the potential to develop new interventional strategies.
doi:10.1093/eurjhf/hfr056
PMCID: PMC3143829  PMID: 21791541
Homoarginine; Sudden cardiac death; Heart failure; Amino acids; Haemodialysis
10.  Vitamin D deficiency is associated with sudden cardiac death, combined cardiovascular events, and mortality in haemodialysis patients 
European Heart Journal  2010;31(18):2253-2261.
Aims
Dialysis patients experience an excess mortality, predominantly of sudden cardiac death (SCD). Accumulating evidence suggests a role of vitamin D for myocardial and overall health. This study investigated the impact of vitamin D status on cardiovascular outcomes and fatal infections in haemodialysis patients.
Methods and results
25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] was measured in 1108 diabetic haemodialysis patients who participated in the German Diabetes and Dialysis Study and were followed up for a median of 4 years. By Cox regression analyses, we determined hazard ratios (HR) for pre-specified, adjudicated endpoints according to baseline 25(OH)D levels: SCD (n = 146), myocardial infarction (MI, n = 174), stroke (n = 89), cardiovascular events (CVE, n = 414), death due to heart failure (n = 37), fatal infection (n = 111), and all-cause mortality (n = 545). Patients had a mean age of 66 ± 8 years (54% male) and median 25(OH)D of 39 nmol/L (interquartile range: 28–55). Patients with severe vitamin D deficiency [25(OH)D of≤ 25 nmol/L] had a 3-fold higher risk of SCD compared with those with sufficient 25(OH)D levels >75 nmol/L [HR: 2.99, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.39–6.40]. Furthermore, CVE and all-cause mortality were strongly increased (HR: 1.78, 95% CI: 1.18–2.69, and HR: 1.74, 95% CI: 1.22–2.47, respectively), all persisting in multivariate models. There were borderline non-significant associations with stroke and fatal infection while MI and deaths due to heart failure were not meaningfully affected.
Conclusion
Severe vitamin D deficiency was strongly associated with SCD, CVE, and mortality, and there were borderline associations with stroke and fatal infection. Whether vitamin D supplementation decreases adverse outcomes requires further evaluation.
doi:10.1093/eurheartj/ehq246
PMCID: PMC2938469  PMID: 20688781
Vitamin D; Sudden cardiac death; Mortality; Dialysis; Kidney; Cardiovascular

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