Feb. 17 (UPI) – Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston have found that lower levels of vitamin D increase the risk of relapse of ulcerative colitis.
Ulcerative colitis, or UC, is an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in the colon. Lower vitamin D levels have been linked with active disease in patients with UC.
“Prior studies in patients with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis had linked low vitamin D levels to disease flare-ups,” Dr. Alan Moss, a gastroenterologist at the Digestive Disease Center at BIDMC, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and senior author of the study, said in a press release.
“However, it has been unclear if the flare-up was lowering vitamin D levels, or if low vitamin D levels were causing the flare-up. We thought that if we looked at vitamin D levels when the disease was inactive and then followed patients moving forward, the impact of baseline vitamin D levels on future events may be clearer.”
Vitamin D serum levels were collected from 70 patients with UC in clinical remission who were followed up after a surveillance colonoscopy.
Researchers measured the vitamin D levels in blood samples and measured inflammation levels through blood tests and biopsies. They followed the patients for 12 months and compared vitamin D levels in patients who stayed in remission with those who relapsed and found the median baseline vitamin D level was lower in patients who relapsed than those who did not.
“Patients who had higher vitamin D levels when their disease was in remission were less likely to experience a relapse in the future,” Dr. John Gubatan, a physician at BIDMC and first author of the study, said in a press release. “This suggests that higher vitamin D levels may play some role in preventing the UC relapse.”
The study was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.