The VITDALIZE Study: Effect of High-dose Vitamin D3 on 28-day Mortality in Adult Critically Ill Patients

  • End date
    Feb 27, 2023
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Medical University of Graz
Updated on 27 January 2021
Karin Amrein, MD, MSc
Primary Contact
Salzburger Landeskliniken (0.0 mi away) Contact
+25 other location


In the VITdAL-ICU trial using a large oral dose of vitamin D3 in 480 adult critically ill patients, there was no benefit regarding the primary endpoint hospital length of stay. However, the predefined subgroup with severe vitamin D deficiency (25(OH)D 12ng/ml) had significantly lower 28-day mortality (36.3% placebo vs. 20.4% vitamin D group, hazard ratio (HR) 0.52 (0.30-0.89), number needed to treat = 6). Therefore, high-dose vitamin D3 in a population of severely vitamin D deficient critically ill patients is a promising and inexpensive intervention that requires confirmatory multicenter studies.

To date, only 7 interventions (e.g. noninvasive ventilation or prone positioning) have ever demonstrated mortality benefit for Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients in multicenter trials. In case of benefit, vitamin D treatment in critically ill patients could be immediately implemented worldwide.


A very limited number of intervention trials, most including less than 30 patients, have been published. The only phase III study, our VITdAL-ICU study recruited from 2010 to 2012 and (n=475) did not find a difference in the primary endpoint "length of hospital stay" between placebo and high-dose vitamin D3. However, there was a non-significant absolute risk reduction in all-cause hospital mortality in the total population. The difference was larger (17.5%) and significant in the predefined subgroup of patients with severe vitamin D deficiency at baseline, see Kaplan Meier curve below (n=200, 28.6 vs 46.1%, p=0.01, 0.56 (0.35-0.90) ), corresponding to a number needed to treat of 6. (51) As this was only a secondary endpoint in the predefined subgroup with severe vitamin D deficiency, this finding is hypothesis generating and requires further study, leading to this application.

In our study, we were unable to identify a mechanism by which this benefit was achieved. Interestingly, looking at the causes of death, the vitamin D group seemed to benefit in every category.

The VITDALIZE study is a pragmatic, multicenter, placebo-controlled double-blind randomized controlled phase III trial in adult critically ill patients which will be conducted in academic and non-academic centers. The sponsor is the Medical University of Graz, Austria.

Subjects will be randomised in a 1:1 ratio to receive either of the two treatments:

Vitamin D: oral/enteral pharmacological dose of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3)

  • total dose 900,000
  • loading dose of 540,0000 (dissolved in 37.5 ml of medium chain triglycerides - MCT) followed by 4000 IU daily (10 drops) for the entire active study period (90 days)

Placebo: identical regime - loading dose of 37.5 ml MCT followed by 10 drops daily

This study uses a group sequential design, with one interim analysis when 50% of the planned enrolled patients in each arm (N=600 per arm) have completed their day 28 assessment by the independent data safety monitoring board. The enrollment of patients will continue while the interim analyses is performed.

Condition Vitamin D Deficiency, Critical Illness, Vitamin Deficiency, COVID19, critically ill
Treatment Placebo, Cholecalciferol
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT03188796
SponsorMedical University of Graz
Last Modified on27 January 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Anticipated ICU stay 48 hours
Admission to ICU 72 hours before screening
Severe vitamin D deficiency (12 ng/ml or undetectable)

Exclusion Criteria

Severe gastrointestinal dysfunction (> 400 ml residual volume)/unable to take study medication
Do not resuscitate (DNR) order/imminent death
known recent nephrolithiasis, active tuberculosis or sarcoidosis
not deemed appropriate by study team/physician
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