Vitamin D Status Is Associated with Hepcidin and Hemoglobin Concentrations in Children with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

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Anemia, iron deficiency, and hypovitaminosis D are well-known comorbidities in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Epidemiologic studies have linked vitamin D deficiency with increased risk of anemia, and in vitro studies suggest that vitamin D may improve iron recycling through downregulatory effects on hepcidin and proinflammatory cytokines.


We aimed to investigate the association of vitamin D status with inflammation, iron biomarkers, and anemia in pediatric IBD. Cross-sectional data were obtained from N = 69 patients with IBD aged 5 to <19 years. Iron biomarkers (ferritin, soluble transferrin receptor), and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D), inflammatory biomarkers (C-reactive protein and α-1-acid glycoprotein), hepcidin, and hemoglobin were collected. Iron biomarkers were regression corrected for inflammation. Multivariable logistic/linear models were used to examine the associations of 25(OH)D with inflammation, iron status, hepcidin, and anemia.


Approximately 50% of subjects were inflamed (C-reactive protein >5 mg/L or α-1-acid glycoprotein >1 g/L). Iron deficiency prevalence (inflammation-corrected ferritin <15 μg/L or soluble transferrin receptor >8.3 mg/L) was 67%; anemia was 36%, and vitamin D insufficiency (25(OH)D <30 ng/mL) was 77%. In linear regression models, vitamin D insufficiency was associated with increased hepcidin levels (β [SE] = 0.6 [0.2], P = 0.01) and reduced hemoglobin (β [SE] = −0.9 [0.5], P = 0.046), controlling for age, sex, race, insurance status, body mass index for age, inflammation, disease diagnosis (ulcerative colitis versus Crohn's disease), and disease duration, compared with 25(OH)D ≥30 ng/mL.


Our results suggest that concentrations of 25(OH)D ≥30 ng/mL are associated with lower hepcidin and higher hemoglobin levels. Further research is needed to clarify the association of vitamin D with inflammation, iron status, and anemia in pediatric IBD.

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