Lung complications are leading causes of morbidity and death among patients with sickle cell disease. Infections and increased inflammation play important roles in the development of lung problems in these patients. Emerging evidence shows that vitamin D helps the immune system to fight infection and control inflammation.

Through the ViDAS trial (Vitamin D for Sickle Cell Respiratory Complications), doctors from our Division — led by Margaret Lee, MD, and Gary Brittenham, MD — are collaborating with physicians from the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and the Division of Pulmonology to see if high doses of oral vitamin D3 given once a month can reduce the rate of respiratory complications in children and adolescents with sickle cell disease.

“Many patients with sickle cell disease are already deficient in vitamin D,” notes Dr. Lee. “If the results are positive, vitamin D could represent a simple, inexpensive, noninvasive treatment for preventing respiratory complications of sickle cell disease.” Findings from the study are expected in summer 2015.