New York, Nov 6, Low levels of Vitamin D are associated with higher incidence of end-stage renal disease in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus or lupus, researchers claimed to have found.

"We have shown that supplementing Vitamin D reduces urine protein, which is the best predictor of future renal failure," said the study's lead author Michelle A. Petri, Director at Hopkins Lupus Center.

Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disease wherein an unknown trigger causes the body's immune system to attack its own healthy tissues. The most common type of lupus is systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE).

A group of researchers conducted a study, presented at the ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting 2017 in San Diego, to determine how low Vitamin D levels could predict later organ damage.

The researchers analysed data of 1,392 SLE patients, including their first medical office visit wherein vitamin D levels were measured and organ/tissue damage during follow-up clinic visits.

The patients studied included 92 per cent females, with a mean age of 47.3 years, and included 50 per cent Caucasian and 41 per cent African-American.

Patients were categorised based on 25-hydroxy Vitamin D levels that were either below 20 nanograms (ng) per millilitre (ml), or at or above 20 ng/ml on their first office visit.

At their first office visit where Vitamin D levels were measured, 27.3 percent of the patients had levels below 20 ng/ml.

The researchers then calculated the risk of lifetime organ damage for patients with low vitamin D levels.

According to the study's results, the relative risk of renal damage was the highest for SLE patients whose Vitamin D levels were insufficient.

"Supplementary Vitamin D helps to prevent one of the most dreaded complications of SLE and likely has a role in preventing blood clots and cardiovascular disease as well," Petri noted.