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Vitamin D tests assume constant Binding Protein - not correct across races and clinical situations – July 2014

A comparison of measured and calculated free 25(OH) vitamin D levels in clinical populations.

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 May;99(5):1631-7. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3874. Epub 2014 Jan 31.
Schwartz JB1, Lai J, Lizaola B, Kane L, Markova S, Weyland P, Terrault NA, Stotland N, Bikle D.
1Departments of Medicine (J.B.S., J.L., B.L., N.A.T., D.B.), Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences (J.B.S., S.M.), Physiological Nursing (P.W.), Obstetrics and Gynecology (N.S.), and Dermatology (D.B.), University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94143; and Jewish Home of San Francisco (J.B.S., L.K.), San Francisco, California 94112.

OBJECTIVE: Our goal was to compare direct quantitation of circulating free 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D)levels to calculated free 25(OH)D levels and their relationships to intact PTH (iPTH), a biomarker of 25(OH)D effect, in humans with a range of clinical conditions.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: Serum samples and clinical data were collected from 155 people: 111 without cirrhosis or pregnancy (comparison group), 24 cirrhotic patients with albumin <2.9 g/dL, and 20 pregnant women (second and third trimester). Total 25(OH)D (LC/MS/MS), free 25(OH)D (immunoassay), vitamin D binding protein (DBP) (immunoassay), albumin, and iPTH (immunoassay) were measured.

Results: Total 25(OH)D, DBP, and albumin were lowest in patients with cirrhosis, but measured free 25(OH)D was highest in this group (P < .001). DBP was highest in pregnant women (P < .001), but measured free 25(OH)D did not differ from the comparison group. Calculated free 25(OH)D was positively correlated with measured free 25(OH)D (P < .0001) but explained only 13% of the variability with calculated values higher than measured.
African Americans had lower DBP than other ethnic populations within all clinical groups (P < .03), and differences between measured and calculated free 25(OH)D were greatest in African Americans (P < .001).

Measured free 25(OH)D

  • was correlated with total 25(OH)D (P < .0001; r(2) = 0.51),
  • but calculated free 25(OH)D was not.


  • both measured free 25(OH)D (P < .02) and total 25(OH)D (P < .05) were correlated with iPTH,
  • but calculated free 25(OH)D was not.

Calculated free 25(OH)D levels varied considerably from direct measurements of free 25(OH)D with discrepancies greatest in the data for African Americans. Differences in DBP binding affinity likely contributed to estimation errors between the races. Directly measured free 25(OH)D concentrations were related to iPTH, but calculated estimates were not. Current algorithms to calculate free 25(OH)D may not be accurate. Further evaluation of directly measured free 25(OH)D levels to determine its role in research and clinical management of patients is needed.

PMID: 24483

See also VitaminDWiki