Public Release:  Vitamin D shows promise for treating Crohn's disease in pilot study

SAGE Publications

(June 12, 2015) New research published in this month's edition of United European Gastroenterology journal 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. The study is by Professor Maria O'Sullivan and Tara Raftery. Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

Crohn's disease (CD) is a lifelong chronic relapsing and remitting gastrointestinal condition, characterised by inflammation, which can involve any portion of the gastrointestinal tract. CD is associated with abdominal pain, diarrhoea, fatigue and in many cases can result in a reduction of quality of life, time off work, hospitalisations and surgery. The exact causes are unknown; however, immune, genetic and environmental factors are thought to be involved.

Incidence of CD varies across Europe, with up to 10 cases per 100,000 population per year. Generally, case rates are higher in northern and western Europe than southern and eastern Europe.

There is emerging data that Vitamin D supplementation may prolong remission in CD; however, the clinical efficacy and underlying mechanisms remain unclear. In this new research, the authors aimed to determine changes in gut barrier function (as determined by intestinal permeability and antimicrobial peptide concentrations) as well as disease markers in CD, in response to vitamin D supplementation.

In a double-blind randomised placebo-controlled study, the authors assigned 27 CD patients in remission to 2000 IU/day vitamin D supplementation or placebo for 3 months. They 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 conclude: "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 randomised controlled trials will be required.

UEG's inflammatory bowel disease expert, Dr Charles Murray of the Royal Free Hospital, London, UK comments; "This is an exciting development in the treatment of Crohn's disease and we welcome anything new that could potentially help patients with this debilitating condition".

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Notes to Editors

Media Contacts

Dr Charles Murray, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK - please contact Luke Paskins, UEG. T. +44 (0) 1444 811099. E. media@ueg.eu

Associate Professor Maria O'Sullivan, Department of Clinical Medicine, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, St. James's Hospital, Dublin, Ireland. T. + 353 1 896 4039. E. maria.osullivan@tcd.ie

References

For the full UEG Journal article, see: http://ueg.sagepub.com/content/early/2015/02/06/2050640615572176.full.pdf+html

For further information on incidence of Crohn's disease in Europe, see: https://ueg.eu/epaper/WhiteBook.Brochure/index.html#/6

About UEG

UEG, or United European Gastroenterology, is a professional non-profit organisation combining all the leading European societies concerned with digestive diseases. Together, its member societies represent over 22,000 specialists, working across medicine, surgery, paediatrics, gastrointestinal oncology and endoscopy. This makes UEG the most comprehensive organisation of its kind in the world, and a unique platform for collaboration and the exchange of knowledge.

To advance standards of gastroenterological care and knowledge across Europe and the world, UEG offers numerous activities and initiatives, including:

  • UEG Week, the biggest congress of its kind in Europe, and one of the two largest in the world. MEDIA REGISTRATION NOW OPEN

  • UEG Education, the universal source of knowledge in gastroenterology, providing online and classroom courses, a huge online library and delivering the latest GI news, fostering debate and discussion

  • Training Support, funding for innovative training and educational programmes, as well as international scientific and professional co-operations

  • UEG Journal, published bi-monthly, covering translational and clinical studies from all areas of gastroenterology

  • EU Affairs, promoting research, prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of digestive diseases, and helping develop an effective health policy for Europe

Find out more about UEG's work by visiting http://www.ueg.eu or contact:

Luke Paskins on +44 (0)1444 811099 or media@ueg.eu

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