VITAMIN D could provide vital new treatment options for patients with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (TB) according to the results of a recent clinical trial performed by researchers from Queen Mary University of London, London, UK. The researchers demonstrated improved outcomes for this hard-to-treat population when vitamin D was combined with antibiotic treatment.
The team, led by Prof Adrian Martineau, Queen Mary University of London, studied the data of 1,850 TB patients from across eight countries. The patients were all taking part in clinical trials of vitamin D. Overall, TB clearance was not accelerated by the treatment; however, when the researchers looked specifically at multi-drug resistant TB patients, they found that combining vitamin D with antibiotic treatment did boost clearance of the disease. They also discovered that the dosage of vitamin D used in the trials was not associated with any serious adverse events.
Prof Martineau explained: “Our study raises the possibility that vitamin D, which is very safe and inexpensive, could benefit this hard-to-treat group of patients by taking a novel approach to their treatment. By adding vitamin D to antibiotic treatment, we can boost the immune system to help the body to clear TB bugs, rather than relying on antibiotics on their own to kill the bacteria directly.”
These findings suggest that host-directed therapies such as this one could improve outcomes for patients with a range of drug-resistant bacterial infections, not just TB. With antibiotic resistance on the rise across the globe, these study results could provide a new avenue for scientists in the fight to reduce this growing healthcare burden. It is important to note, however, that the small sample size of this study means the findings alone are not sufficient to warrant clinical recommendation of vitamin D supplementation in the treatment of multi-drug resistant TB.