'Sunshine' Vitamin D Found to Speed Tuberculosis Recovery
Reuters (09.03.12):: Kate Kelland
High doses of vitamin D, administered concurrently with antibiotic treatment, appear to help patients recover from TB more quickly, according to new research.

The body makes vitamin D through exposure to the sun. In the era before antibiotics, TB patients often were encouraged to sun themselves in a treatment known as heliotherapy or phototherapy. The new finding explains why this practice may have been beneficial.

In the new study, British researchers split 95 TB patients on standard antibiotic therapy into two groups: 44 who also received high-dose vitamin D, and 51 who received placebos. The patients’ blood samples were measured for signs of inflammation to see what effect vitamin D had on immune response, and sputum samples were examined by microscope for signs of infection.

TB cleared from sputum faster in patients taking vitamin D, taking 23 days on average to be undetected by microscope, compared with 36 days for the placebo group.

“We found that a large number of these inflammatory markers fell further and faster in patients receiving vitamin D,” said Anna Coussens of Britain’s National Institute for Medical Research.

“Sometimes these inflammatory responses can cause tissue damage leading to ... cavities in the lung,” said study leader Adrian Martineau, senior lecturer in respiratory infection and immunity at Queen Mary University in London. “If we can help these cavities to heal more quickly, then patients should be infectious for a shorter period of time, and they may also suffer less lung damage.”

A larger trial would be needed before the vitamin could be recommended, Martineau said.

[The study, “Vitamin D Accelerates Resolution of Inflammatory Responses During Tuberculosis Treatment,” was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2012;doi:10.1073/pnas.1200072109).]
17 September 2012
Translation / Edition: Admin