Vitamin D: More Clearly Implicated in Lupus

For some time it has been known that a deficiency of vitamin D is often found in patients with lupus or other autoimmune diseases. What hasn't been understood is which is the cause and which is the effect.

Now research from the Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation ("OMRF") suggests that the vitamin could also play an earlier role in autoimmune diseases, including lupus.

OMRF researchers Dr. Judith James, and associate Lauren Cole have found "that in people who are genetically predisposed to lupus [emphasis added], a vitamin D deficiency could serve as a catalyst to developing the disease." That is big news in the lupus universe where too little is known about what might or might not kick off the disease.

Their finding could be helpful in be helpful in tracking down ways to treat lupus which, we all know, are way to few and far between.

In a press release from OMRF, Dr. James said that, “with vitamin D supplements, doctors might be able to reduce the chances of an ‘autoimmune’ attack,” which occurs in lupus, RA and etc. when the immune system mistakes its own body's tissue for "foreign invaders" -- a.k.a., a "flare". 

James and Cole presented their findings at the annual Federation of Clinical Immunology Societies Conference in Boston.

“Researchers had previously linked vitamin D deficiency with autoimmune diseases like lupus,” Cole said. “What we found is that in both lupus patients and healthy individuals, low levels of vitamin D correlated with increased autoantibodies”—proteins that attack the body’s own tissue.

This really is huge news. They are saying not just that vitamin D deficiency is found in people with lupus, but that a vitamin D deficiency can actually trigger a flare or may even trigger the onset of the disease itself. 

“By boosting vitamin D levels, we’d hope to see a drop in autoantibodies,” Cole said. That would be awesome! 

Sunlight serves as the primary source of vitamin D, which is formed when the skin is exposed to ultraviolet B radiation. But because skin sensitivity to light is a symptom of lupus, James said, patients would likely need supplements to keep their vitamin D levels up.

Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system turns its defenses against itself. It can affect any part of the body, but it most commonly attacks the skin, joints, blood and kidneys.

For more information about this research, see the OMRF website, and the press release that is there.

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This time, it IS lupus



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