Crohns disease

Crohn’s disease: Vitamin D administration changes the intestinal bacterial microbiota

Dr. Dimitris Tsoukalas, MD

Eva Saranti, Molecular Biologist, MSc by Research in Biomedical Sciences 

It is known that dysbiosis-alteration to the intestinal bacteria composition-is a key factor that leads to the development of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

Current concepts on the pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel disease suggest that environmental factors such as diet, lifestyle habits and lack of vitamins trigger an inappropriate activation of the immune system against the intestinal microbiota.

Researchers from the University Medical Center of Rostock in Germany, carried out a clinical study to test whether the beneficial role of vitamin D3 in intestinal inflammation affects also the intestinal bacterial microbiota.  

The study showed that vitamin D3 administration improves the intestinal microbiota in patients with Crohn’s disease. Researchers studied bacterial strains of the intestine in patients and healthy people before and after vitamin D3 administration.

The results of the analysis showed that while vitamin D3 administration did not affect the intestinal microbiota of healthy people, it significantly changed the microbiota of the intestine in patients with Crohn’s disease.

Researchers believe that vitamin D3 beneficial role is through the accumulation of “good bacteria” in the intestine and modulating a balanced bacterial composition between beneficial and pathogenic bacteria.

Vitamin D and autoimmunity

Vitamin D has multiple beneficial effects, and especially in autoimmune diseases.
It is important to mention that people with autoimmune diseases are resistant  to vitamin D3 and need higher doses to achieve the biological effect that vitamin D3 has in healthy people.

Because of resistance to vitamin D3, the optimal levels for patients with autoimmune diseases are around the upper physiological levels (100ng/ml) so to have the maximum biological effect of this vital immunoregulatory vitamin/hormone.

However, classical methods for measuring vitamin D3 can accurately detect up to 70 ng/ml of vitamin D3. When levels are higher than 70ng/ml vitamin D3 measurement is not accurate. The results of vitamin D3 analysis are often significantly higher levels than the actual levels in the blood thus is not appropriate for clinical practice in treating patients with autoimmune diseases. In our clinic we measure the active form of vitamin D3 levels through the optimal method used in Metabolomic Analysis®, which allows the accurate evaluation of vitamin D3 levels in order to formulate the therapeutic approach.

The inflammatory bowel diseases can be treated if we identify the root cause of the disease and provide the patient with the appropriate care plan to restore the physiological function of the body.

To your health!

  • Vitamin D administration leads to a shift of the intestinal bacterial composition in Crohn's Disease patients, but not in healthy controls. Schäffler H et. al. J Dig Dis. 2018 Mar 23. doi: 10.1111/1751-2980.12591.
  • The gut microbiota and inflammatory bowel disease Katsuyoshi Matsuoka and Takanori Kanai. Semin Immunopathol. 2015; 37: 47–55.
  • A pilot study assessing the effect of prolonged administration of high daily doses of vitamin D on the clinical course of vitiligo and psoriasis. Cicero Galli Coimbra Dermatoendocrinol. 2013 Jan 1; 5(1): 222–234.
  • Evaluation, Treatment, and Prevention of Vitamin D Deficiency: an Endocrine Society Clinical Practice Guideline Michael F. Holick et. al The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, Volume 96, Issue 7, 1 July 2011
  • Current Methods for Routine Clinical Laboratory Testing of Vitamin D Levels. Wendy L Arneson. Review. Lab Medicine Winter 2013 | Volume 44
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