New research undertaken at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center reports that the risk of clinical relapse for patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) is higher for those with lower serum vitamin D levels. The work builds on the previously known association between low levels of vitamin D and incidence of active UC. Senior author Alan Moss, MD, commented “…it has been unclear if the (UC) flare–up was lowering vitamin D levels, or if low vitamin D levels were causing the flare-up. We thought that if we looked at vitamin D levels when the disease was inactive and then followed patients moving forward, the impact of baseline vitamin D levels on future events may be clearer.” The findings appear in this month’s edition of Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
The study examined serum vitamin D levels in 70 patients whose UC was in clinical remission. These patients were followed for 12 months with vitamin D levels compared for patients who remained well and those who suffered relapse. The relapsed cohort were found to have lower baseline vitamin D levels. First author John Gubatan, MD reported “Patients who had higher vitamin D levels when their disease was in remission were less likely to experience a relapse in the future.” The study identified a protective threshold level of serum vitamin D of 35ng/ml, or within the National Institutes of Health recommendations for a healthy person. Moss and Gubatan are investigating the link between vitamin D and cathelicidin, a protein in the colon cell lining. A news story about the study findings may be read here. The journal article may be read here.
Posted on February 21, 2017