Researchers out of Argentina have found that patients treated with vitamin D experienced a slower progression to more severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) affects one in nine people older than 65 years old and is characterized by a loss of memory and changes in behavior. AD is a progressive condition meaning that it develops slowly and gets worse over time.
Receptors for vitamin D in the brain have led researchers to become interested in how vitamin D affects the development and the management of AD.
Vitamin D deficiency is reported to increase risk of developing AD, while maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may reduce the number of plaques that develop with AD.
To help understand vitamin D’s complete role in AD, Dr. Marcelo Chaves and colleagues looked at how treatment of vitamin D affects the progression of the disease.
They recruited 202 patients with mild AD who had at least four years of follow-up data. The researchers were interested if vitamin D treatment, cardiovascular risk factors, osteoporosis, treatment with memantine, or acetylcholinesterase inhibitors (ACE inhibitor) drugs affected the progression of AD.
Memantine is a drug specifically designed to treat AD, and ACE inhibitors are drugs used to treat the symptoms of dementia in general. The researchers looked at these factors over the course of four years to determine how they were related to disease progression.
They found that vitamin D affected time of AD progression independently of the other factors analyzed. Patients treated with vitamin D had slower AD progression and took one year longer to develop to a more severe stage compared to those not treated with vitamin D.
“Treatment with vitamin D may be an independent protecting factor in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease,” the researchers concluded.