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Vitamin D Supplementation Activates Genes That Reduce Disease Risk

By BiotechDaily International staff writers
Posted on 08 Apr 2013
Advanced gene scanning microarray technology was used to identify a set of 291 genes linked to 160 biologic pathways that were activated by increased levels of vitamin D.

Vitamin D deficiency (less than 20 ng/mL of 25-hydroxyvitamin D), underlies a number of health issues, including rickets and other musculoskeletal diseases. More recent findings suggest that vitamin D deficiency and vitamin D insufficiency (from 21–29 ng/mL) are associated with various cancers, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, type II diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Investigators at Boston University School of Medicine (MA, USA) conducted a study to determine the effect of vitamin D status and subsequent vitamin D supplementation on broad gene expression in white blood cells collected from healthy adults before and two months after daily supplementation with either 400 or 2000 IU vitamin D3.

Results of analysis of white blood cell DNA collected from eight healthy adults during the randomized, double-blind, single center pilot trial were published in the March 20, 2013, online edition of the journal PLOS ONE. They revealed that vitamin D3 supplementation that improved serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentrations was associated with at least a 1.5 fold alteration in the expression of 291 genes (from the more than 22,500 genes that were investigated). There was a significant difference in the expression of 66 genes between subjects at baseline with vitamin D deficiency and subjects with normal levels of the vitamin.

Further analysis showed that the biologic functions associated with the 291 genes were related to 160 biologic pathways linked to cancer, autoimmune diseases, infectious diseases, and cardiovascular disease.

"This study reveals the molecular fingerprints that help explain the nonskeletal health benefits of vitamin D," said senior author Dr. Michael F. Holick, professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at Boston University School of Medicine. "While a larger study is necessary to confirm our observations, the data demonstrates that improving vitamin D status can have a dramatic effect on gene expression in our immune cells and may help explain the role of vitamin D in reducing the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other diseases."

Related Links:
Boston University School of Medicine



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