Oral vitamin D may help prevent some skin infections

Oct 06, 2008

A study led by researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine suggests that use of oral Vitamin D supplements bolsters production of a protective chemical normally found in the skin, and may help prevent skin infections that are a common result of atopic dermatitis, the most common form of eczema.

The study – led by Richard Gallo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of medicine and chief of the Division of Dermatology at the UCSD School of Medicine and the Dermatology section of the Veterans Affairs San Diego Healthcare System, and Tissa R. Hata, M.D., associate professor of medicine at UC San Diego – found that use of oral vitamin D appeared to correct a defect in the immune systems in patients with this skin disease. Their findings will be published in the October 3 edition of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology

The researchers studied a small number of patients with moderate to severe atopic dermatitis, a chronic skin disease that affects 10 to 20 percent of children and one to three percent of adults. Atopic dermatitis is characterized by areas of severe itching, redness and scaling. Over time, chronic changes can occur due to constant scratching and rubbing. The condition puts patients at increased risk for skin infections by Staph aureus and the herpes and small pox viruses.

It had previously been shown that defects in the immune system interfere with the skin's ability to produce a peptide called cathelicidin, which is protective against microbial invasion. In many skin diseases, including eczema, a deficiency of cathelicidin correlates with increased infection.

Study participants (14 with atopic dermatitis and 14 without) were all given 4000 IUs of oral Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) per day for 21 days. Skin lesions were biopsied before and after the 21-day period. The researchers found that oral vitamin D use by the patients appeared to correct the skin's defect in cathelicidin.

"These results suggest that supplementation with oral vitamin D dramatically induces cathelicidin production in the skin of patients with atopic dermatitis," said Hata. "It also slightly elevated its production in normal skin in this study."

However, the researchers caution that this was a small study and that further research is needed to evaluate the long-term effects of vitamin D supplementation, and to determine if this may be an adequate way to prevent infections in patients with atopic dermatitis.

In the past several years, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased rates of multiple cancers and diabetes, among other diseases, notably in studies published by UC San Diego researcher, Cedric Garland, Dr. P.H., professor with Moores UCSD Cancer Center and the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at UC San Diego.

Source: University of California - San Diego

Explore further: Smoking's toll on mentally ill analyzed

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Thinnest feasible nano-membrane produced

28 minutes ago

A new nano-membrane made out of the 'super material' graphene is extremely light and breathable. Not only can this open the door to a new generation of functional waterproof clothing, but also to ultra-rapid filtration. The ...

Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

28 minutes ago

Up to now, HONO, also known as nitrous acid, was considered one of the most important sources of hydroxyl radicals (OH), which are regarded as the detergent of the atmosphere, allowing the air to clean itself. ...

There's something ancient in the icebox

28 minutes ago

Glaciers are commonly thought to work like a belt sander. As they move over the land they scrape off everything—vegetation, soil, and even the top layer of bedrock. So scientists were greatly surprised ...

Recommended for you

Obama: 8 million signed up for health care (Update)

8 hours ago

President Barack Obama said Thursday 8 million Americans have signed up for health care through new insurance exchanges, besting expectations and offering new hope to Democrats who are defending the law ahead ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Chronic inflammation linked to 'high-grade' prostate cancer

Men who show signs of chronic inflammation in non-cancerous prostate tissue may have nearly twice the risk of actually having prostate cancer than those with no inflammation, according to results of a new study led by researchers ...

Turning off depression in the brain

Scientists have traced vulnerability to depression-like behaviors in mice to out-of-balance electrical activity inside neurons of the brain's reward circuit and experimentally reversed it – but there's ...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team ...

Hackathon team's GoogolPlex gives Siri extra powers

(Phys.org) —Four freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania have taken Apple's personal assistant Siri to behave as a graduate-level executive assistant which, when asked, is capable of adjusting the temperature ...