Vitamin D supplements may benefit lupus patients

October 16, 2012

A new clinical study published in BioMedCentral's open access journal Arthritis Research and Therapy provides preliminary evidence that vitamin D supplementation could be considered an immunomodulatory agent for systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), a debilitating autoimmune disease characterized not only by skin, joint, neurological and renal symptoms, but also by inflammation of tissue linings in the body.

SLE is a T- and -dependent disease that causes an appearance of , causing the body to attack itself. Patients present with a depletion of (Tregs) that normally protect against autoimmune disease, an increase in cytokine-producing T helper (Th) 17 cells and an increase in IFN-inducible genes, which trigger the body's protective responses. Recent studies have shown that vitamin D could ameliorate these effects.

In a prospective clinical trial, Nathalie Costedoat-Chalumeau and colleagues set out to evaluate the safety and immunological effects of vitamin D supplementation in 20 SLE patients with low vitamin D levels. They observed these patients over six months and found that vitamin D was not only well-tolerated but, more importantly, there were no SLE flare-ups during the follow-up period.

Vitamin D supplementation in these patients caused an increase in beneficial CD4+ cells (mature Th cells), an increase in Treg cells and a decrease of effector Th1 and Th17 cells. It also induced a decrease of memory B cell and anti-DNA antibodies – all beneficial for SLE symptoms. The authors found that no modification of existing was needed, nor any new drugs initiated.

Although preliminary in nature, these findings suggest that vitamin D provides beneficial immunological effects for SLE, with a decrease in B and effector T cells, and an increase in Tregs. Costedoat-Chalumeau said "This should be confirmed in larger randomized controlled trials."

Costedoat-Chalumeau believes that the findings confirm that vitamin D may also play other roles in the immune system. She said "The study has highlighted interesting pathways to explore. Among the identified signatures, we observed the down-regulation of RNA polymerase functions and histone expression and the up-regulation of the TP53/CDKN1A-related pathway. These deserve further research owing to their possible involvement with a decrease in the accumulation of autoantigens and the activation and proliferation of autoreactive T and B lymphocytes."

Explore further: When too much sun is not enough

More information: Restoration of regulatory and effector T cell balance and B cell homeostasis in systemic lupus erythematosus patients through vitamin D supplementation Benjamin Terrier, Nicolas Derian, Yoland Schoindre, Wahiba Chaara, Guillaume Geri, Noel Zahr, Kuberaka Mariampillai, Michelle Rosenzwajg, Wassila Carpentier, Lucile Musset, Jean-Charles Piette, Adrien Six, David Klatzmann, David Saadoun, Patrice Cacoub and Nathalie Costedoat-Chalumeau, Arthritis Research and Therapy (in press).

Related Stories

When too much sun is not enough

May 7, 2012
(Medical Xpress) -- Lupus patients show more severe symptoms of the disease if their vitamin D levels are low, an Australian-first study has found.

Umbilical cord blood-derived stem cells studied for lupus therapy

April 11, 2011
Human umbilical cord blood-derived mensenchymal stem cells (uMSCs) have been found to offer benefits for treating lupus nephritis (LN) when transplanted into mouse models of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). SLE is an ...

Recommended for you

Old World monkeys could be key to a new, powerful rheumatoid arthritis therapy

November 16, 2017
In the quest for a new and more effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, researchers from the Keck School of Medicine of USC looked to a primate that mostly roams the land in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It was ...

Study lists foods for fighting rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and progression

November 8, 2017
A list of food items with proven beneficial effects on the progression and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis is provided in a new study published today in Frontiers in Nutrition. The authors suggest incorporating these foods ...

Prototype equipment can detect rheumatoid arthritis

September 28, 2017
According to a first clinical study published in the scientific journal Photoacoustics, the University of Twente and various European partners have designed a device that shows the difference between healthy fingers and arthritic ...

Improving the recognition of anxiety and depression in rheumatoid arthritis

August 28, 2017
A study conducted by Keele University shows that patients with rheumatoid arthritis who are also suffering with anxiety or depression may avoid talking to their GP about their mental health symptoms.

How you think about your arthritis makes a difference

August 24, 2017
(HealthDay)—How well you cope with knee arthritis depends a lot on your mental outlook, a new study suggests.

Treating arthritis with algae

August 23, 2017
Researchers at ETH Zurich, Empa and the Norwegian research institute SINTEF are pursuing a new approach to treating arthritis. This is based on a polysaccharide, a long-chain sugar molecule, originating from brown algae. ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.