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Nutrient - Vitamin D decreases mould allergies

By Holly Taylor BSc(H0ns) DipCNM MBANT NTCC

Although environmental mould is one of the most commonly-inhaled organisms, for most people it doesn’t cause any problems. However, for some asthmatics and patients with cystic fibrosis (CF), mould exposure can lead to allergic responses and severe complications. It’s estimated that up to 15% of CF patients have severe allergic response to a common mould called allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA).

Now, data from the US suggests vitamin D may help protect people with respiratory diseases from detrimental responses to mould. Results of a cell study, published in the Journal of Clinical Investigation, identified a connection between vitamin D levels and the activity of certain allergy-associated immune cells.

The researchers set out to identify why some patients with asthma and CF suffer with mould allergies and others do not, by looking at different immune factors that regulate the tolerance or sensitisation to common mould. The study found that the immune cells of allergic patients had much lower levels of certain proteins, essential in the development of allergen tolerance, but produced higher levels of a protein called OX40L, which increases allergic response.

What’s more, the scientists discovered that the patients’ over-reactivity to mould was associated with vitamin D deficiency. “We found that adding vitamin D not only substantially reduced the production of the protein driving an allergic response, but it also increased production of the proteins that promote tolerance,” said Dr Kolls, one of the authors.

The study concludes that its data “strongly implicates vitamin D deficiency as a risk factor for ABPA”, also suggesting that vitamin D enrichment or supplementation could be a valuable way to treat, and possibly prevent, allergic reactions to common mould in people that are already suffering from respiratory conditions.  

Article References

Kreindler et al. (2010) “Immune tolerance to Aspergillus fumigatus versus Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis: roles of OX40L and vitamin D.” J Clin Invest. [Epub ahead of print]

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