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Open access

Christian Trummer, Stefan Pilz, Verena Schwetz, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch and Elisabeth Lerchbaum

Background

Accumulating evidence from animal and human studies suggests that vitamin D is involved in many functions of the reproductive system in both genders.

Aim

The aim of this review was to provide an overview on the effects of vitamin D on polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in women and androgen metabolism in men.

Methods

We performed a systematic literature search in PubMed for relevant English language publications published from January 2012 until September 2017.

Results and discussion

The vitamin D receptor and vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes are found in reproductive tissues of women and men. In women, vitamin D status has been associated with several features of PCOS. In detail, cross-sectional data suggest a regulatory role of vitamin D in PCOS-related aspects such as ovulatory dysfunction, insulin resistance as well as hyperandrogenism. Moreover, results from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) suggest that vitamin D supplementation may be beneficial for metabolic, endocrine and fertility aspects in PCOS. In men, vitamin D status has been associated with androgen levels and hypogonadism. Further, there is some evidence for a favorable effect of vitamin D supplementation on testosterone concentrations, although others failed to show a significant effect on testosterone levels.

Conclusion

In summary, vitamin D deficiency is associated with adverse fertility outcomes including PCOS and hypogonadism, but the evidence is insufficient to establish causality. High-quality RCTs are needed to further evaluate the effects of vitamin D supplementation in PCOS women as well as on androgen levels in men.

Open access

Stefan Pilz, Armin Zittermann, Christian Trummer, Verena Theiler-Schwetz, Elisabeth Lerchbaum, Martin H Keppel, Martin R Grübler, Winfried März and Marlene Pandis

Vitamin D testing and treatment is a subject of controversial scientific discussions, and it is challenging to navigate through the expanding vitamin D literature with heterogeneous and partially opposed opinions and recommendations. In this narrative review, we aim to provide an update on vitamin D guidelines and the current evidence on the role of vitamin D for human health with its subsequent implications for patient care and public health issues. Vitamin D is critical for bone and mineral metabolism, and it is established that vitamin D deficiency can cause rickets and osteomalacia. While many guidelines recommend target serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D) concentrations of ≥50 nmol/L (20 ng/mL), the minimum consensus in the scientific community is that serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 25–30 nmol/L (10–12 ng/mL) must be prevented and treated. Using this latter threshold of serum 25(OH)D concentrations, it has been documented that there is a high worldwide prevalence of vitamin D deficiency that may require public health actions such as vitamin D food fortification. On the other hand, there is also reason for concern that an exploding rate of vitamin D testing and supplementation increases costs and might potentially be harmful. In the scientific debate on vitamin D, we should consider that nutrient trials differ from drug trials and that apart from the opposed positions regarding indications for vitamin D treatment we still have to better characterize the precise role of vitamin D for human health.

Open access

Stan Ursem, Vito Francic, Martin Keppel, Verena Schwetz, Christian Trummer, Marlene Pandis, Felix Aberer, Martin R Grübler, Nicolas D Verheyen, Winfried März, Andreas Tomaschitz, Stefan Pilz, Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch and Annemieke C Heijboer

Objective

PTH can be oxidised in vivo, rendering it biologically inactive. Non-oxidised PTH (n-oxPTH) may therefore give a better image of the hormonal status of the patient. While vitamin D supplementation decreases total PTH (tPTH) concentration, the effect on n-oxPTH concentration is unexplored. We investigated the effect of vitamin D on n-oxPTH concentration in comparison to tPTH and compared the correlations between parameters of calcium, bone and lipid metabolism with n-oxPTH and tPTH.

Methods

N-oxPTH was measured in 108 vitamin D-insufficient (25(OH)D <75 nmol/L) hypertensive patients, treated with vitamin D (2800 IE daily) or placebo for 8 weeks in the Styrian Vitamin D Hypertension Trial (NCT02136771). We calculated the treatment effect and performed correlation analyses of n-oxPTH and tPTH with parameters of calcium, bone and lipid metabolism and oxidative stress.

Results

After treatment, compared to placebo, 25(OH)D concentrations increased, tPTH decreased by 9% (P < 0.001), n-oxPTH by 7% (P = 0.025) and the ratio of n-oxPTH/tPTH increased (P = 0.027). Changes in phosphate and HDL concentration correlated with changes in n-oxPTH, but not tPTH.

Conclusions

tPTH and n-oxPTH decrease upon vitamin D supplementation. Our study suggests that vitamin D supplementation reduces the oxidation of PTH, as we observed a small but significant increase in the non-oxidised proportion of PTH upon treatment. In addition, we found that changes in phosphate and HDL concentration showed a relationship with changes in n-oxPTH, but not tPTH. This may be explained by the biological activity of n-oxPTH. Further research should be carried out to establish the clinical relevance of n-oxPTH.

Open access

Vito Francic, Martin Keppel, Verena Schwetz, Christian Trummer, Marlene Pandis, Valentin Borzan, Martin R Grübler, Nicolas D Verheyen, Marcus E Kleber, Graciela Delgado, Angela P Moissl, Benjamin Dieplinger, Winfried März, Andreas Tomaschitz, Stefan Pilz and Barbara Obermayer-Pietsch

Objective

Cardiovascular disease manifestation and several associated surrogate markers, such as vitamin D, have shown substantial seasonal variation. A promising cardiovascular biomarker, soluble ST2 (sST2), has not been investigated in this regard – we therefore determined if systemic levels of sST2 are affected by seasonality and/or vitamin D in order to investigate their clinical interrelation and usability.

Design

sST2 levels were measured in two cohorts involving hypertensive patients at cardiovascular risk, the Styrian Vitamin D Hypertension Trial (study A; RCT design, 8 weeks 2800 IU cholecalciferol daily) and the Ludwigshafen Risk and Cardiovascular Health Study (LURIC; study B; cross-sectional design).

Methods

The effects of a vitamin D intervention on sST2 levels were determined in study A using ANCOVA, while seasonality of sST2 levels was determined in study B using ANOVA.

Results

The concentrations of sST2 remained unchanged by a vitamin D intervention in study A, with a mean treatment effect (95% confidence interval) of 0.1 (−0.6 to 0.8) ng/mL; P = 0.761), despite a rise in 25(OH)D (11.3 (9.2–13.5) ng/mL; P < 0.001) compared to placebo. In study B, seasonal variations were present in 25(OH)D levels in men and women with or without heart failure (P < 0.001 for all subgroups), while sST2 levels remained unaffected by the seasons in all subgroups.

Conclusions

Our study provides the first evidence that systemic sST2 levels are not interrelated with vitamin D levels or influenced by the seasons in subjects at cardiovascular risk.