British researchers have found that high dose vitamin D can accelerate the recovery of patients with tuberculosis, in combination with standard antibiotic treatment.
Tuberculosis infected 9 million people around the world in 2010, killing nearly 1.5 million of those infected. Drug-resistant tuberculosis rates have been increasing throughout the world, prompting an increase in research for new, effective treatments.
The researchers, whose study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, randomized 95 tuberculosis patients who were on standard antibiotic treatment into two groups. For the first two months of their antibiotic treatment, 44 patients received high dose vitamin D, while the remaining 51 took a placebo.
The researchers measured signs of inflammation in blood samples collected from the participants to determine any effect the vitamin D had on immune response.
They found that a number of the measured inflammatory markers fell further and faster among patients taking vitamin D.
The researchers also found that the bacteria that causes TB was cleared from phlegm coughed up from the lungs faster in patients taking vitamin D, taking 23 days to be undetectable under the microscope compared to 36 days among participants taking placebo.
The authors call for further research on the subject looking at larger population sizes before clinical recommendations can be made.