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High-dose vitamin D reduces chemical-induced skin inflammation

Dr. Kurt Lu, Eugene and Gloria Bauer Professor of Dermatology at the Northwestern University School of Medicine

High-dose oral vitamin D reduced skin inflammation and increased immunoprotection in patients with chemical-induced skin rashes, and a molecular marker discovered in the study might help identify patients at risk of severe allergic reactions to topical therapies.

The findings were published in JCI Insight.

Dr. Kurt Lu, the Eugene and Gloria Bauer Professor of Dermatology at the Northwestern University School of Medicine, led the research.

“Oral vitamin D is a safe and readily available over-the-counter nutritional supplement with anti-inflammatory and immunoprotective properties while boasting no adverse effects. This study also provides a new avenue of exploration for druggable targets to both reduce consequences of injury and enhance wound healing,” said Dr. Lu in a press release.

In the randomized, double-blinded clinical trial, investigators analyzed skin tissue samples from 28 healthy participants whose inner arm skin was exposed to a test amount of topical nitrogen mustard, a U.S. FDA-approved medication with known chemical irritant properties, to produce an experimental rash. Participants then received either a high-dose oral vitamin D intervention or a placebo.

Participants who received the vitamin supplements experienced less skin irritation and inflammation than those in the placebo group.

Further analysis of skin and blood samples from the vitamin D group revealed suppression of the pro-inflammatory IL-17 pathway.

The authors write that this finding establishes IL-17 signalling as a promising biomarker.

“Our molecular signature may help identify patients at risk for developing a severe allergic response, allowing clinicians to make early adjustments to the treatment regimen or implement supportive therapies. We suggest that giving patients vitamin D when they begin medical treatment may suppress these severe reactions,” Dr. Lu said.

Dr. Lu said his team wants to further investigate the anti-inflammatory potential of oral vitamin D supplements in treating rashes caused by other types of treatments and medications, building off their previous findings published in JAMA Dermatology that found that vitamin D can help treat severe rashes caused by chemotherapy.

“We would like to conduct further molecular analyses to fully elucidate the anti-inflammatory mechanisms of vitamin D and we will look to increase vitamin D efficacy through targeted delivery using biomimetic nanoparticles,” Dr. Lu said.

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