PITTSBURGH, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say vitamin D may help treat and prevent allergic reaction to mold in cystic fibrosis patients.
Researchers led by Dr. Jay Kolls of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans suggest vitamin D might be used to treat and even prevent allergy to the common airborne mold -- Aspergillus fumigatus.
A. fumigatus, tolerated by most people, can cause severe complications for patients with cystic fibrosis and asthma. As many as 15 percent of patients with cystic fibrosis will develop a severe allergic response -- known as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis.
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, finds aspergillosis patients had a heightened response by immune cells -- type 2 T helper cells -- that was linked to the presence of the protein OX40L.
This response was correlated with lower levels of vitamin D. Patients who did not suffer from aspergillosis had higher levels of vitamin D.
"We found that adding vitamin D substantially reduced the production of the protein driving the allergic response and also increased production of the protein that promotes tolerance," Kolls says in a statement. "Based on our results, we have strong rationale for a clinical trial of vitamin D to determine whether it can prevent or treat allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis in patients with cystic fibrosis."