Vitamin D may help treat or prevent an allergy to a common environmental mold that often affects patients with asthma and Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Dr. Jay Kolls, chair of the genetics department at LSU Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), led a team of researchers whose study results are published in the September issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The mold, Aspergillus fumigatus, is one of the most prevalent fungal organisms inhaled by people and usually doesn't cause health problems. For asthma and CF patients, however, the mold can trigger severe allergic reactions. In a study of patients with CF, Kolls' team found that vitamin D substantially reduces production of a protein that fuels the allergic response — and increases the production of proteins that develop a tolerance to the mold. Koll says the next step is a clinical trial to see if vitamin D is effective in treating or preventing the severe allergic reaction.
Kolls says the study reinforces the importance of vitamin D in overall health, pointing to research suggesting low vitamin D levels could contribute to higher risks of heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, depression, asthma, colds and respiratory disorders.