Supplementation with vitamin D could help battle sytemic lupus by modifying immune responses, suggest researchers.
The clinical study provides preliminary evidance that vitamin D supplementation could modulate the immune system to help battle 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.
Writing in Arthritis Research and Therapy, for six months researchers evaluated the safety and immunological effects of vitamin D supplementation in 20 SLE patients with low vitamin D levels, finding that vitamin D was not only well-tolerated but there were no SLE flare-ups during the follow-up period.
Led by Nathalie Costedoat-Chalumeau from the Hopitaux de Paris, France, the team showed that vitamin D caused an increase in beneficial CD4+ immune cells, in addition to boosting levels of Treg immune cells and a lowering effector Th1 and Th17 cells.
Costedoat-Chalumeau said she believes that the findings confirm that vitamin D may also play other roles in the immune system, adding that although the results are preliminary, they do suggest that vitamin D provides beneficial immunological effects for systemic lupus.
Arthritis Research & Therapy 2012, 14:R221