A recent randomized controlled trial (RCT) published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition investigated the role of vitamin D supplementation in adults with cystic fibrosis hospitalized for lung infections.
Grossmann RE, Zughaier SM, Liu S, Lyles RH, Tangpricha V. Impact of vitamin D supplementation on markers of inflammation in adults with cystic fibrosis hospitalized for a pulmonary exacerbation. Eur J Clin Nutr, 2012.
This was the same RCT we had reported on months ago, but this time the authors took a look at inflammation markers and not patient general well-being and risk of death.
Cystic fibrosis is the most common genetic disease among Caucasians in the United States leading to premature death. Patients with cystic fibrosis produce abnormally thick mucous which can lead to blockages and decreased functioning of organs, most prominently those of the respiratory and digestive systems. Inflammation and infection in the lungs as the result of mucous buildup is the most common cause of death in patients with cystic fibrosis. Control of the inflammatory process in patients with cystic fibrosis can help control infection, and is thus a key factor in clinical outcomes.
Previous in vitro and in vivo research has revealed vitamin D’s ability to reduce markers of immune inflammation, while simultaneously increasing production of the body’s own antimicrobial peptide (AMP), LL-37, to fight infection.
Researchers divided 30 adults with cystic fibrosis hospitalized for lung infections into two groups. One group received a single dose of 250,000 oral cholecalciferol, while the other received a placebo. Blood samples were analyzed at baseline, week 1, and week 12 for markers of immune inflammation. Multiple confounders, including age, BMI, sex, race, pancreatic insufficiency, lung function, and vitamin D intake, were taken into account.
At 12 weeks, mean serum concentrations of TNF-a and IL-6, markers of systemic inflammation, were significantly decreased in the vitamin D group but not in the placebo group. No other significant changes were noted for any of the other inflammatory cytokines measured.
Limitations of the study included small sample size and the use of markers of systemic inflammation as surrogates for inflammation in the respiratory tract.
This RCT provides encouraging results for a therapeutic role of vitamin D supplementation in patients with cystic fibrosis. The anti-inflammatories commonly prescribed for these patients have undesirable side effects that vitamin D does not have. The prospect of vitamin D as not only a safe and effective treatment for inflammation, but one also capable of boosting the body’s innate ability to fight infection make vitamin D a promising treatment for patients with cystic fibrosis.