ScienceDaily (Jan. 6, 2011) — New research findings which show that vitamin D can speed up antibiotic treatment of tuberculosis (TB) have been revealed by scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. The study — which gives fresh insight into how vitamin D may affect the immune response — is published January 6, 2011 in The Lancet.
In a trial led by Dr Adrian Martineau of the Centre for Health Sciences at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry — and funded by the British Lung Foundation — 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB were recruited from 10 National Health Service Trusts in London and randomly and evenly assigned to receive either four oral doses of 2.5mg of vitamin D, or a placebo. All participants received standard antibiotic treatment for their condition.
The average time to clearance of TB from the lungs among all study participants was 6 weeks for patients taking standard therapy alone and 5 weeks for those taking additional vitamin D, although this difference was not large enough to sustain statistical significance. However, patients who had a particular genetic type of vitamin D receptor were much more vitamin D responsive than others and cleared TB bacteria much more quickly if they received vitamin D in addition to standard antibiotic treatment.
122/126 patients in the trial (97per cent), had inadequate levels of vitamin D at baseline. Vitamin D deficiency is a very common problem in TB patients — a characteristic which may arise due to lack of sunshine in the UK, or to diets low in vitamin D. It is also possible that TB can cause vitamin D deficiency by a mechanism which is not wholly understood at present.
Lead researcher Dr Adrian Martineau said: “Vitamin D is best known for its effects on bones — it prevents rickets and osteomalacia — but it also has important effects on the immune system. High dose vitamin D was used to treat TB in the days before antibiotics were available, but clinical trials have not previously been performed to find out how TB patients’ genetic make-up can affect their response to vitamin D supplementation. The finding that patients who have a particular type of vitamin D receptor are very responsive to vitamin D is new and gives us insights into how vitamin D can affect the immune response.”
The above story is reprinted (with editorial adaptations by ScienceDailystaff) from materials provided by Queen Mary, University of London, via EurekAlert!, a service of AAAS.
Adrian R Martineau et al. High-dose vitamin D3 during intensive-phase antimicrobial treatment of pulmonary tuberculosis: a double-blind randomised controlled trial. The Lancet, January 6, 2011 DOI: 10.1016/S0140-6736(10)61889-
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