Scientists at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry have found that Vitamin D can help antibiotic treatment of tuberculosis (TB).
During the study led by Dr Adrian Martineau of the Centre for Health Sciences at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, 146 patients with drug-sensitive TB were evenly assigned four oral doses of 2.5 mg of Vitamin D, or a placebo. The standard antibiotic treatment for the condition also continued undisturbed for all the participants.
It takes up to six weeks for clearance of TB from the lungs and all those on standard therapy stuck to the estimated recovery time. Those participants, who took Vitamin D in addition to the standard therapy, seemed to recover within 5 weeks itself. The difference in recovery time may not be that significant, yet it was seen that patients with a specific genetic type of Vitamin D receptor responded faster to standard antibiotic treatment for clearing TB when they received Vitamin D.
In the words of lead researcher Dr Adrian Martineau, 'Vitamin D is best known for its effects on bones - it prevents rickets and osteomalacia - but it also has important effects on the immune system. High dose vitamin D was used to treat TB in the days before antibiotics were available, but clinical trials have not previously been performed to find out how TB patients' genetic make-up can affect their response to vitamin D supplementation. 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.'