Vitamin D supplements could fight Crohn's disease

Jan 27, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A new study has found that Vitamin D, readily available in supplements or cod liver oil, can counter the effects of Crohn's disease. John White, an endocrinologist at the Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre, led a team of scientists from McGill University and the Université de Montréal who present their findings about the inflammatory bowel disease in the latest Journal of Biological Chemistry.

“Our data suggests, for the first time, that deficiency can contribute to Crohn's disease,” says Dr. White, a professor in McGill's Department of Physiology, noting that people from northern countries, which receive less sunlight that is necessary for the fabrication of Vitamin D by the human body, are particularly vulnerable to Crohn's disease.

Vitamin D, in its active form (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D), is a hormone that binds to receptors in the body's cells. Dr. White's interest in Vitamin D was originally in its effects in mitigating cancer. Because his results kept pointing to Vitamin D's effects on the immune system, specifically the innate immune system that acts as the body's first defense against microbial invaders, he investigated Crohn's disease. “It's a defect in innate immune handling of intestinal bacteria that leads to an inflammatory response that may lead to an autoimmune condition,” stresses Dr. White.

What Vitamin D does

Dr. White and his team found that Vitamin D acts directly on the beta defensin 2 gene, which encodes an antimicrobial peptide, and the NOD2 gene that alerts cells to the presence of invading microbes. Both Beta-defensin and NOD2 have been linked to Crohn's disease. If NOD2 is deficient or defective, it cannot combat invaders in the intestinal tract.

What's most promising about this genetic discovery, says Dr. White, is how it can be quickly put to the test. “Siblings of patients with Crohn's disease that haven't yet developed the disease might be well advised to make sure they're vitamin D sufficient. It's something that's easy to do, because they can simply go to a pharmacy and buy Vitamin D supplements. The vast majority of people would be candidates for Vitamin D treatment.”

“This discovery is exciting, since it shows how an over-the-counter supplement such as Vitamin D could help people defend themselves against Crohn's disease,” says Marc J. Servant, a professor at the Université de Montréal's Faculty of Pharmacy and study collaborator. “We have identified a new treatment avenue for people with or other inflammatory bowel diseases.”

Explore further: Four billion-year-old chemistry in cells today

More information: The article “Direct and indirect induction by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 of theNOD2/CARD15-beta defensin 2 innate immune pathway defective in Crohn's disease,” published in The Journal of Biological Chemistry, was authored by Tian-Tian Wang, et al.

Related Stories

Toward an explanation for Crohn's disease?

Jul 09, 2009

Twenty-five per cent of Crohn's disease patients have a mutation in what is called the NOD2 gene, but it is not precisely known how this mutation influences the disease. The latest study by Dr. Marcel Behr, of the Research ...

'Let the sunshine in' to protect your heart this winter

Nov 17, 2008

The temperature might not be the only thing plummeting this winter. Many people also will experience a decrease in their vitamin D levels, which can play a role in heart disease, according to a new review article in Circulation.

Vitamin D found to fight placental infection

Dec 01, 2008

In a paper available at the online site of the journal Biology of Reproduction, a team of UCLA researchers reports for the first time that vitamin D induces immune responses in placental tissues by stimulating production of the ...

Recommended for you

A new approach to creating organic zeolites

Jul 24, 2014

Yushan Yan, Distinguished Professor of Engineering at the University of Delaware, is known worldwide for using nanomaterials to solve problems in energy engineering, environmental sustainability and electronics.

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Roj
not rated yet Jan 29, 2010
Vitamin D, readily available in supplements or cod liver oil
The article makes no reference to codliver oil. http://www.jbc.or...227.full

Codliver oil may be a source of Vitamin D, but research suggests people taking multiples of the normal dose of codliver oil may reach toxic levels of vitamin A, not vitamin D, [55] if taken in an attempt to increase the levels of vitamin D. [Overdose] http://en.wikiped...itamin_D

[55] Bendich A, Langseth L (1989). "Safety of vitamin A". Am J Clin Nutr 49 (2): 358–71. PMID 2492745 http://www.ajcn.o...ipsecsha

Bernhardt and Dorsey (84)reported a case in which a woman who had taken a fish oil product daily that contained 25 000 IU of vitamin A during the first trimester of pregnancy and 50 000 IU from months four through nine gave birth to a child with congenital abnormalities of the urinary tract.


Anyone care to show otherwise?