European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 33, Issue 6, pp 567–577 | Cite as

Low concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D and long-term prognosis of COPD: a prospective cohort study

  • Gitte Færk
  • Yunus Çolak
  • Shoaib Afzal
  • Børge G. Nordestgaard


Role and importance of vitamin D deficiency in long-term prognosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) still remains undetermined. We tested the hypothesis that among individuals with COPD, those with low concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D have a poorer prognosis compared to those with normal concentrations. We studied 35,153 individuals from the general population aged 20–100 years with 25-hydroxyvitamin D measurements and spirometry, the Copenhagen City Heart Study [median follow-up 21 years (range 13 days–36 years)] and the Copenhagen General Population Study [7.1 years (3 days–13 years)]. Spirometric COPD (n = 5178; 15% of all) was defined as forced expiratory volume in 1 s (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC) < 0.70 in individuals without asthma and clinical COPD (n = 2033; 6%) as FEV1/FVC < 0.70 and FEV1 < 80% of predicted in ever-smokers aged > 40 years without asthma and with cumulative tobacco consumption ≥ 10 pack-years. In spirometric COPD, median age at death in years was 70.2 (95% confidence interval [CI] 64.4–71.2) for individuals with 25-hydroxyvitamin D < 12.5 nmol/L and 80.3 (74.4–83.4) for those with ≥ 50 nmol/L. In clinical COPD, corresponding values were 69.0 (63.3–70.9) and 76.2 (73.8–78.0). In spirometric COPD, multivariable adjusted hazard ratios for individuals with 25-hydroxyvitamin D < 12.5 nmol/L versus those with ≥ 50 nmol/L were 1.35 (95% CI 1.09–1.67) for all-cause mortality, 1.63 (1.00–2.64) for respiratory mortality, 1.14 (0.76–1.70) for cardiovascular mortality, 1.37 (0.90–2.06) for cancer mortality, and 1.61 (1.04–2.49) for other mortality. In clinical COPD, corresponding values were 1.39 (1.07–1.82), 1.57 (0.91–2.72), 0.88 (0.51–1.53), 1.63 (0.99–2.67), and 2.00 (1.12–3.56). Low concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were associated with an increased risk of death in individuals with COPD. No clear pattern of association could be observed for cause of death; however, there may be an increased risk of respiratory, cancer, and other mortality. It is likely that low concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D is a marker of poor health in COPD.


Emphysema Chronic bronchitis Nutrition Forced expiratory volume Spirometry Epidemiology 


Authors’ Contributions

YÇ, SA, and BGN had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analyses. Study concept and design: GF, YÇ, SA, and BGN. Acquisition, analyses, or interpretation of data: GF, YÇ, SA, and BGN. Drafting of the manuscript: GF and YÇ. Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: GF, YÇ, SA, and BGN. Statistical analyses: GF, YÇ, and SA. Obtained funding: BGN. Administrative, technical, or material support: BGN. Study supervision: SA and BGN.


The Lundbeck Foundation. The sponsor did not participate in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, or interpretation of the data; or in preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; or decision to submit the manuscript for publication.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

YÇ reports personal fees from Boehringer Ingelheim and AstraZeneca outside the submitted work. GF, SA, and BGN have nothing to disclose.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Supplementary material

10654_2018_393_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.7 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1724 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gitte Færk
    • 1
    • 2
  • Yunus Çolak
    • 1
    • 2
  • Shoaib Afzal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Børge G. Nordestgaard
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Herlev and Gentofte HospitalCopenhagen University HospitalHerlevDenmark
  2. 2.The Copenhagen General Population Study, Herlev and Gentofte HospitalCopenhagen University HospitalHerlevDenmark
  3. 3.Faculty of Health and Medical SciencesUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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