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Vitamin D improves corneal barrier function

Posted on: September 16, 2011   by  John Cannell, MD


I am still surprised every time I see researchers discover yet another function that vitamin D plays in its “repair and maintenance” role in the human body.

Take the eye, more specifically the cornea; the clear barrier between the outside, with all its germs and dirt, and the front part of the eye, with all its delicate instruments, like the lens. Scientists from the University of Tennessee just discovered that the cornea has all the requisite vitamin D machinery to make and bind activated vitamin D.

More importantly, they found that the barrier function of the cornea (that keeps bad stuff out of the eye) is directly related to vitamin D levels. They tested corneal barrier function in the test tube to see if vitamin D increased the ability of the cornea to keep bad stuff out. It did; both 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)D enhanced the barrier function of the eye.

Add one more organ, the cornea, and one more function, keeping bad stuff out of the eye, to the list of responsibilities for vitamin D, the chief of the repair and maintenance section in the human body.

Yin Z, et al. Vitamin D Enhances Corneal Epithelial Barrier Function. Invest Ophthalmol Vis Sci. 2011 Jun 29. [Epub ahead of print]

It is also only fair to remember who predicted just such a role for vitamin D way back in 2004: Professor Martin Hewison, of the University of Birmingham in England, one of the giants of vitamin D research.

Hewison M, Zehnder D, Chakraverty R, Adams JS. Vitamin D and barrier function: a novel role for extra-renal 1 alpha-hydroxylase. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2004 Feb 27;215(1-2):31-8. Review.


1 Response to Vitamin D improves corneal barrier function

  1. [email protected]

    Yes very interesting. Amazing how little we know still about vit D function.

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