Having enough vitamin D may help protect against rheumatoid arthritis

Reprinted with the kind permission of Life Extension.

November 22 2017. Research findings reported on October 21, 2017 in the Journal of Autoimmunity suggest that maintaining sufficient vitamin D levels may help lower the risk of developing the inflammatory autoimmune disease rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The research is the first to characterize the effects of the vitamin in peripheral blood and inflamed joints of subjects with inflammatory disease.

By studying T cells from synovial fluid and blood of patients with active RA, researchers at the University of Birmingham discovered that while vitamin D can help protect against the onset of inflammation, it loses effectiveness once inflammatory diseases have been established because these diseases lead to vitamin D insensitivity. “Our current understanding of vitamin D and rheumatoid arthritis is based on studies of patient blood which may not truly represent the situation at the site of inflammation – the joints,” explained coauthor Martin Hewison. “We therefore investigated responses to the active form of vitamin D in immune cells from the inflamed joints of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Compared to blood from the same patients, the inflamed joint immune cells were much less sensitive to active vitamin D. This appears to be because immune cells from the joints of rheumatoid arthritis patients are more committed to inflammation, and therefore less likely to change, even though they have all the machinery to respond to vitamin D.”

“Our research indicates that maintaining sufficient vitamin D may help to prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis,” concluded lead author Louisa E. Jeffrey. “However, for patients who already have rheumatoid arthritis, simply providing vitamin D might not be enough. Instead much higher doses of vitamin D may be needed, or possibly a new treatment that bypasses or corrects the vitamin D insensitivity of immune cells within the joint.”

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