In a pilot study, vitamin D has shown promise for treating Crohn's disease. The research suggests that supplementation with vitamin D may impact on the intestinal barrier dysfunction associated with Crohn's disease and could have a role in the treatment of the condition.
Crohn's disease (CD) is a lifelong chronic relapsing and remitting gastrointestinal condition, characterized by inflammation, which can involve any portion of the gastrointestinal tract. CD is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhea, fatigue and in many cases, can result in a reduction of quality of life, time off work, hospitalizations and surgery.
Researchers found, that patients treated with the supplementation were more likely to maintain their intestinal permeability, whereas this deteriorated in the placebo group. Increased intestinal permeability is considered a measure of gut leakiness, which is shown to predict and precede clinical relapse in CD.
In addition, patients with the highest blood levels of vitamin D had signs of reduced inflammation (measured by C-reactive protein and antimicrobial peptides), and these patients also reported better quality of life.
The authors concluded that this is the first reporting of effects of vitamin D supplementation on intestinal permeability and antimicrobial peptide measures in a CD cohort. Whilst the data requires further confirmation, it broadly supports evidence from previous experimental studies that suggest a role for vitamin D in maintaining intestinal barrier integrity.
Whilst the data is promising, the authors highlight that in order to understand its translation into treatment for CD, further larger randomized controlled trials will be required. The study is published in United European Gastroenterology