Vitamin D may halt lung function decline in asthma and COPD

May 20, 2009

Vitamin D may slow the progressive decline in the ability to breathe that can occur in people with asthma as a result of human airway smooth muscle (HASM) proliferation, according to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.

The group found that calcitriol, a form of synthesized within the body, reduced growth-factor-induced HASM proliferation in cells isolated from both persons with asthma and from persons without the disease. The proliferation is a part of process called airway , which occurs in many people with asthma, and leads to reduced over time.

The researchers believe that by slowing airway remodeling, they can prevent or forestall the irreversible decline in breathing that leaves many asthmatics even more vulnerable when they suffer an asthma attack.

"Calcitriol has recently earned prominence for its anti-inflammatory effects," said Gautam Damera, Ph.D., who will present the research at the American Thoracic Society's 105th International Conference in San Diego on Wednesday, May 20. "But our study is the first to reveal the potent role of calcitriol in inhibiting ASM proliferation."

The experiments were conducted with cells from 12 subjects, and the researchers compared calcitriol with dexmethasone, a corticosteroid prescribed widely for the treatment of asthma. Although, dexmethasone is also a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, the researchers found that it had little effect on HASM growth.

Dr. Damera and his colleagues found calcitriol inhibits HASM in a dose-dependent manner, with a maximum inhibitory effect of 60 percent ± 3 percent at 100nM.

As part of the University of Pennsylvania's Airway Biology Initiative, the researchers are planning a randomized control trial of calcitriol in patients with severe asthma and expect to have data from the trial in about a year's time.

With its anti-inflammatory qualities and its ability to inhibit smooth muscle proliferation, Dr. Damera said, calcitriol may become an important new therapy, used alone or in combination with already prescribed steroids, for treating steroid-resistant asthma.

Dr. Damera and his colleagues have also conducted experiments to determine the mechanism by which calcitriol retards HASM proliferation. They believe the vitamin works by inhibiting activation of distinct set of proteins responsible for cell-cycle progression.

The investigators have also conducted experiments to determine whether calcitriol, which is currently used to treat psoriasis, could be an effective therapy for COPD. Although preliminary, their data shows that calcitriol appears to reduce pro-inflammatory cytokine secretions in COPD. As with , the researchers believe, calcitriol may also have the added benefit of slowing, if not stopping, the progression of airway remodeling. Others in the field believe calcitriol may also have the potential to inhibit the development and growth of several types of cancer.

Source: American Thoracic Society (news : web)

Explore further: Town 'sealed off' after man dies of plague in China (Update)

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Vitamin D linked to reduced mortality rate in CKD

May 07, 2008

For patients with moderate to severe chronic kidney disease (CKD), treatment with activated vitamin D may reduce the risk of death by approximately one-fourth, suggests a study in the August Journal of the American Society of ...

Could vitamin D save us from radiation?

Nov 07, 2008

Radiological health expert Daniel Hayes, Ph.D., of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggests that a form of vitamin D could be one of our body's main protections against damage from low levels of ...

Heavy breathing -- an obscure link in asthma and obesity

Aug 29, 2008

There is a strong link between obesity and asthma and as the prevalence of both conditions has been increasing steadily, epidemiologists have speculated that there is an underlying condition that connects the two. But one ...

HATS off to combat asthma

Dec 04, 2007

Two University of Nottingham studies exploring the causes and treatment of asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) could lead to the development of drugs to battle these debilitating conditions.

Study helps clarify role of vitamin D in cancer therapy

Nov 17, 2008

A colon cancer cell isn't a lost cause. Vitamin D can tame the rogue cell by adjusting everything from its gene expression to its cytoskeleton. In the Nov. 17 issue of the Journal of Cell Biology, Ordóñez-Morán et al. ...

Recommended for you

Meningitis diagnosis prompted W.Va. clinic probe

16 hours ago

A health official says an investigation that found syringes were being reused at a West Virginia pain management clinic was triggered by patient who developed bacterial meningitis.

California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

20 hours ago

A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

dirk_bruere
not rated yet May 20, 2009
Maybe asthma is increasing because people don't go out in the sun as much, esp during winter.