A new study published in BMJ Open has found that vitamin D status may predict the risk of relapse in people with tuberculosis.
Recent studies have suggested that higher vitamin D levels may be associated with a better immune response to tuberculosis (TB) infection, a faster rate of cure and better long-term outcomes. However, two randomized controlled trials of late have failed to find a treatment effect in vitamin D supplementation. Two limitations of the recent trials may be low doses and too short of a trial duration.
In the current study, researchers took a look at 677 patients in Tanzania, all with TB. The researchers measured vitamin D levels in the patients at the beginning of the study and then followed them for several months, with a mean follow-up of 52 months for those who didn’t have HIV and a mean 30 months for those who did.
At baseline, the researchers found that mean vitamin D levels were 27.9 ng/ml.
After follow-up, the researchers noticed that those with vitamin D levels of less than 30 ng/ml had a 66% higher risk of relapse compared to those who had higher levels.
On the other hand, there was no correlation between vitamin D status and risk of death.
The researchers concluded, “Our study results indicate that adequate vitamin D status is associated with better clinical and nutritional parameters during follow-up in a cohort of patients with TB in Tanzania.”
They further recommend that more trials be carried out to see if vitamin D can help treat TB. They said, “Randomized trials of vitamin D supplementation among patients with TB are urgently warranted.”