Leading the way to a cure

Lupus Research Update: 2010 Volume 3

Volume 3, 2010 - Online Edition | In This Issue

A Major Advance in Use of Steroids >
Faces of Lupus: CELEBRATING 10 YEARS >
The Role of Vitamin D in Lupus >
Registries Help Guide Lupus Research and Treatment >
Milestones in an Illustrious 10-Year History >
Lupus News Corner >

The Role of Vitamin D in Lupus

Preliminary evidence suggests Vitamin D may offer some protection from diseases like diabetes, some forms of cancer, multiple sclerosis, inflammatory bowel disease, and autoimmune diseases.

But what is the relevance to lupus?

To help answer this question, an ALR-funded investigation — conducted by Professor John Hardin of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York — attempted to discover how Vitamin D might impact lupus.

It is widely known that lupus patients overproduce a cytokine called interferon alpha — which is produced by cells to help regulate the immune system. One consequence of overproduction is that the dendritic cell, which is critical to protecting the body against foreign invaders, might cause the production of antibodies that mistakenly target the patient’s healthy tissues.

So what is the connection to Vitamin D?

Dr. Hardin and others have documented that a significant number of patients with lupus are profoundly deficient in Vitamin D. He also noted that one of the things that Vitamin D appears to do, at least in test tubes, is block the maturation of dendritic cells.

Although science is far from proving that there is a direct correlation, Dr. Hardin is attempting to examine what genes are regulated by interferon alpha and how the activity of those genes change as a result of increasing the levels of Vitamin D in patients. Then, he will assess how the levels of cytokines change and whether inflammation will be affected by Vitamin D.

Taking too much Vitamin D as a supplement can be dangerous — especially for people with lupus. The body has no way to shut down the absorption of Vitamin D from supplements — which could result in buildups to toxic levels.
This is why the ALR advises everyone to seek professional medical advice before taking Vitamin D.

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