Serum and synovial fluid vitamin D metabolites and rheumatoid arthritis

Danyang Li, Louisa E. Jeffery, Carl Jenkinson, Stephanie R. Harrison, Rene F. Chun, John S. Adams, Karim Raza, Martin Hewison

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Vitamin D-deficiency has been linked to inflammatory diseases including rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies to date have focused on the impact of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25(OH)D3), an inactive form of vitamin D, on RA disease activity and progression. However, anti-inflammatory actions of vitamin D are likely to be mediated at sites of RA disease, namely the inflamed joint, and may involve other vitamin D metabolites notably the active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3). In the current study serum and synovial fluid samples from n = 20 patients with persistent RA and n = 7 patients with reactive arthritis (ReA) were analysed for multiple vitamin D metabolites. Serum data for RA and ReA patients were compared to healthy controls (HC). There was no significant difference between RA or ReA patients relative to HC for 25(OH)D3, 24,25(OH)2D3, 1,25(OH)2D3 or 25(OH)D2. However, 3-epi-25(OH)D3 was significantly lower in RA and ReA patients compared to HC (p < 0.05). All vitamin D metabolites, apart from 25(OH)D2, were lower in SF compared to serum, and SF 1,25(OH)2D3 was unquantifiable in 13/20 RA and 4/7 ReA samples. SF 25(OH)D3, 3-epi-25(OH)D3 and DBP correlated inversely with swollen joint score, and serum 25(OH)D2 and SF DBP correlated directly with C-reactive protein levels. These data indicate that serum 25(OH)D3 provides only limited insight into the role of vitamin D in RA. Alternative serum metabolites such as 3-epi-25(OH)2D3, and SF metabolites, notably lack of SF 1,25(OH)2D3, may be more closely linked to RA disease severity and progress.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalThe Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Early online date3 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


  • vitamin D
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • synovial fluid
  • serum
  • inflammatory disease
  • vitamin D binding protein
  • free vitamin D


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