A recent National Institute of Health (NIH) study of adolescent suggests that vitamin D may prevent hormonal changes that lead to bone loss among patients treated for HIV with the drug tenofovir.
Tenofovir is the most commonly used drug to treat HIV, but there are significant side effects associated with the drug. It often causes symptoms that mimic those of severe vitamin D deficiency, including a significant decrease in bone density.
Researchers recruited 200 people ages 18 to 25. All participants were on either tenofovir or some form of anti-HIV treatment. Monthly, participants either took 50,000 IU of vitamin D or a placebo for 3 months.
At the end of the study, parathyroid levels had fallen 14% among participants taking tenofovir in the vitamin D group, but remained unchanged in participants taking other forms of anti-HIV drugs. Parathyroid hormone stimulates calcium release from the bones.
Rohan Hazra, M.D., of the Pediatric, Adolescent and Maternal AIDS Branch of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), an author of the study stated:
“What we’ve found suggests vitamin D could be used to counteract one of the major concerns about using tenofovir to treat HIV.People in their teens and twenties may be on anti-HIV treatment for decades to come, so finding a safe and inexpensive way to protect their long-term bone health would be a major advance.”