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Study Of UK TB Patients Shows That Some Recover More Quickly If Their Antibiotics Are Supplemented With High-Dose Vitamin D

A new study of UK tuberculosis (TB) patients has shown that, for those with a certain genetic profile (genotype), supplementation of vitamin D to their standard antibiotic regimen reduces the time needed for TB bacteria to clear from sputum culture by almost a week for the population studied. The Article, published Online First in The Lancet, is by Dr Adrian R Martineau, Queen Mary University of London, Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK, and colleagues.

Vitamin D was used to treat TB in the pre-antibiotic era, and its metabolites induce antimycobacterial immunity in cell culture (TB is caused by mycobacterium tuberculosis). While tuberculosis is still common in many developing countries, it also occurs in high-income nations such as the UK, where cases have risen by 50% since 1999 to a total of more than 9,000 in 2009. Many of these cases are in homeless people and migrants, and more than 40% are in London. UK TB patients in particular suffer deficiency of vitamin D most probably due to their lack of exposure to sunlight. This new study, which was funded by the British Lung Foundation, is the first to assess the clinical effect of vitamin D supplementation on sputum culture conversion.

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