Antibiotic treatment of tuberculosis (TB) can be accelerated by vitamin D, according to a study by scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry.
Their findings, which were published in The Lancet, give fresh insight into how vitamin D may affect the immune response.
A group of 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB received either four oral doses of 2.5mg of vitamin D, or a placebo in a trial led by Dr Adrian Martineau of the Centre for Health Sciences at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. The study, funded by the British Lung Foundation, saw all participants receive standard antibiotic treatment for their condition.
The average time it took for TB to clear from the lungs among all study participants was six weeks for those taking standard therapy alone and five weeks for those taking additional vitamin D. The difference, however, was not large enough to sustain statistical significance.
However, patients who had a particular genetic type of vitamin D receptor were much more responsive to vitamin D than others and cleared TB bacteria from their lungs much more quickly if they received vitamin D along with standard antibiotic treatment.
Lead researcher Dr Adrian Martineau said: “The finding that patients who have a particular type of vitamin D receptor are very responsive to vitamin D is new and gives us insights into how vitamin D can affect the immune response.”