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Vitamin D3 Boosts Asthma Drug Effectiveness

Preliminary finding suggests it helps patients benefit fom steroids

FRIDAY, Dec. 9, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Vitamin D3 supplements may help improve response to steroid treatment in asthma patients who don't normally benefit from such therapy, according to a new British study.

Inhaled steroids are an effective treatment for many asthma patients, but for others steroid tablets are the only effective way of controlling their disease. Steroid tablets can cause major side effects, however, and a subgroup of patients with severe asthma fail to respond to even the highest doses of oral steroids.

This study, published in the Dec. 8 issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, found that vitamin D3 increased the responsiveness of immune system T-cells to steroids. It does so by inducing T-cells to produce a molecule called IL-10, which inhibits immune responses that trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.

"At the moment, we only have a preliminary experimental observation, that ingestion of vitamin D3 can increase the responsiveness of T-cells from patients with steroid-resistant asthma to steroids," researcher Dr. Catherine Hawrylowicz, of King's College London, said in a prepared statement. "We now need to test the benefits of this treatment in the clinic, and we are currently putting a proposal together to carry out this work."

"Interestingly, vitamin D3 is at present occasionally administered to patients with severe asthma to help prevent steroid-induced osteoporosis. Our studies suggest that there is an additional potential benefit to this treatment," she said.

More information

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology has more about asthma and allergy medications.

SOURCE: King's College London, news release, Dec. 8, 2005
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