Maintaining healthy vitamin D levels may help prevent rheumatoid arthritis

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vitamin D supplement, vitamin D rheumatoid, vitamin D deficiencyMaintaining sufficient vitamin D levels could be key to stopping inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, suggests research led by the University of Birmingham.

We know that vitamin D is essential for maintaining a health skeleton and that it modulates the immune system. For the first time, experts looked at paired peripheral blood and synovial fluid from the inflamed joint of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Key findings

While vitamin D can be effective at preventing the onset of inflammation, it is less effective once inflammatory disease is established because diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis lead to vitamin D insensitivity.

The impact of vitamin D on inflammatory disease cannot be predicted using cells from healthy people or even from the blood of patients with inflammation as cells from the disease tissue are very different.

If vitamin D is to be used in people with rheumatoid arthritis, healthcare professionals may need to prescribe much higher doses than they currently do. Or they need to provide a treatment that also corrects the vitamin D insensitivity of immune cells within the joint.

“Our research indicates that maintaining sufficient vitamin D may help to prevent the onset of inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis,” explains Dr Louisa Jeffery, who is involved in the work. “However, for patients who already have rheumatoid arthritis, simply providing vitamin D might not be enough. Instead much higher doses of vitamin D may be needed, or possibly a new treatment that bypasses or corrects the vitamin D insensitivity of immune cells within the joint.”

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