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J Clin Oncol. 2019 Dec 20;37(36):3528-3537. doi: 10.1200/JCO.19.00985. Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Pretreatment Vitamin D Deficiency Is Associated With Impaired Progression-Free and Overall Survival in Hodgkin Lymphoma.

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University of Cologne, Department I of Internal Medicine, Center for Integrated Oncology Aachen Bonn Cologne Duesseldorf, German Hodgkin Study Group, Cologne, Germany.
University of Cologne, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital of Cologne, Center for Molecular Medicine, Cologne, Germany.
University of Cologne, Faculty of Medicine and University Hospital of Cologne, Else Kröner Forschungskolleg Clonal Evolution in Cancer, Cologne, Germany.



Vitamin D deficiency is described as a modifiable risk factor for the incidence of and mortality in many common cancers; however, data in Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) are lacking.


We thus performed a study measuring pretreatment vitamin D levels in prospectively treated patients with HL and correlated this with clinical outcomes. A total of 351 patients from the German Hodgkin Study Group clinical trials (HD7, HD8, and HD9) were included.


Fifty percent of patients were vitamin D deficient (< 30 nmol/L) before planned chemotherapy. Pretreatment vitamin D deficiency was more common in relapsed/refractory patients than matched relapse-free controls (median baseline vitamin D, 21.4 nmol/L v 35.5 nmol/L; proportion with vitamin D deficiency, 68% v 41%; P < .001). Vitamin D-deficient patients had impaired progression-free survival (10-year difference, 17.6%; 95% CI, 6.9% to 28.4%; hazard ratio, 2.13; 95% CI, 1.84 to 2.48; P < .001) and overall survival (10-year difference, 11.1%; 95% CI, 2.1% to 20.2%; hazard ratio, 1.82; 95% CI, 1.53 to 2.15; P < .001), consistent across trials and treatment groups. We demonstrated that vitamin D status is an independent predictor of outcome and hypothesized that vitamin D status might be important for the chemosensitivity of HL. We subsequently performed experiments supplementing physiologic doses of vitamin D (calcitriol) to cultured HL cell lines and demonstrated increased antiproliferative effects in combination with chemotherapy. In an HL-xenograft animal model, we showed that supplemental vitamin D (dietary supplement, cholecalciferol) improves the chemosensitivity of tumors by reducing the rate of tumor growth compared with vitamin D or chemotherapy alone.


On the basis of our clinical and preclinical findings, we encourage that vitamin D screening and replacement be incorporated into future randomized clinical trials to properly clarify the role of vitamin D replacement therapy in HL.


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