Vitamin D supplementation may slow HIV progression
04 July 2015, 10:39
Vitamin D supplementation may reverse seasonal nutritional deficiency and slow down HIV progression in Cape Town, South Africa, according to a study by University of Cape Town (UCT) academics that was recently published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Because vitamin D is associated with immune system function, deficiencies can affect the outcome of diseases, including HIV.
The results suggest that vitamin D supplementation may prevent winter anaemia and boost white blood cell count, possibly serving as a cost-effective intervention to reduce risk of HIV infection and slow down HIV progression in infected individuals, according to the authors.
To assess the rate of vitamin D deficiency in Cape Town, which exhibits a high rate of HIV infection, a study conducted by academics from UCT and the Universities of Stellenbosch (Stellenbosch) and Pennsylvania State (Penn State), United States, examined various factors affecting vitamin D levels in 100 healthy adults between 18 and 24 years old. The subjects of the study, which was conducted in 2013, were recruited from Khayelitsha and Bellville in Cape Town.
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Dr Anna Coussens (UCT), Professor Robert Wilkinson (UCT), Rene Goliath (UCT), Dr Celeste Naude (Stellenbosch), Professor George Chaplin (Penn State) and Professor Nina Jablonski (Penn State) assessed the participants’ vitamin D status, skin pigmentation, seasonal UVB exposure, dietary vitamin D intake, genetic variation, smoking status, serum vitamin D binding protein and the ability of HIV-1 to infect and replicate in blood cells in the lab, during different times of the year and following vitamin D supplementation.
Although dietary vitamin D intake did not vary seasonally, the authors found that UVB exposure was lower in winter, leading to seasonal vitamin D deficiency that could be reversed by vitamin D supplementation, and that UVB exposure was the major determinant of individual vitamin D status. Further, the study’s authors found that when blood cells isolated from participants were infected with HIV, viral replication was attenuated in blood from individuals who had received vitamin D supplementation in winter.
The study was published in PNAS on 10 June 2015.
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