Researchers out of Turkey have found that low vitamin D levels are associated with higher mean platelet volume, especially among women.
Platelets are small cell fragments (cells that do not have a nucleus). They circulate in the blood and are involved in hemostasis, leading to the formation of blood clots.
Mean platelet volume (MPV) is the average size of the platelets in your blood. Platelet size increases when your body is producing more platelets, so MPV is a good measurement of overall platelet function.
Abnormally high MPV is associated with various cardiovascular diseases like coronary artery disease, hypertension and stroke. This is because larger platelets have a more difficult time traveling through your blood stream and can more easily get stuck and block your arteries.
An abnormally high MPV occurs when your body constantly creates new platelets (which are larger than older platelets) because of a continual loss of existing platelets. This can be caused by things like a recent surgery, infection, inflammation, or from heavy blood loss.
As many of you who read our blog knows, vitamin D deficiency is associated with cardiovascular disease. Some mechanisms for this have been explored, such as vitamin D’s potential role in regulating renin-angiotensin expression and reducing inflammation. You can read more about those potential mechanisms here.
Since MPV and vitamin D each play a role in cardiovascular disease, researchers at Recep Tayyip Erdogan University in Turkey wondered if the two might be linked and might explain another potential mechanism for vitamin D’s role in heart health.
The research team measured the MPV and vitamin D levels of 438 patients who visited the internal medicine clinic at the university. To help evaluate the association between vitamin D and MPV, the researchers divided the participants into three groups based on their vitamin D levels:
- Group 1: 138 patients who had vitamin D levels lower than 10 ng/ml.
- Group 2: 148 patients who had vitamin D levels between 10 and 20 ng/ml.
- Group 3: 148 patients who had vitamin D levels above 20 ng/ml.
The researchers wanted to see if there were any differences between the groups. Here’s what they found:
- Group 3 had significantly lower MPV compared to both Group 1 (p<0.001) and Group 2 (p=0.009).
- When looking at gender, women in Group 1 had the lowest vitamin D levels and the highest MPV (p<0.001).
- Low vitamin D levels and fasting plasma glucose were independently related to high MPV.
The researchers concluded,
“This study suggests that vitamin D deficiency may be associated with an increased risk of cardiac disease in women with a high MPV, since high MPV is associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.”
The small patient population in this study means that the results cannot be generalized to larger populations. The observational nature of the study also means that we cannot say for sure if vitamin D deficiency causes abnormally high MPV.
These results are some of the first to suggest that vitamin D may play a role in platelet volume and function. Future research should be directed at examining the effects of vitamin D supplementation on lowering MPV in those who have cardiovascular disease and abnormally high MPV.