Vitamin A may help boost immune system to fight tuberculosis

VitaminAFoodsResearch has shown that vitamin A plays an important part in the body’s defense system in a number of ways. Now you can add one more potential benefit: according to researchers at University of California, Los Angeles vitamin A may play an important role in combating tuberculosis.

According to findings published in the March 1 issue of the Journal of Immunology, UCLA researchers investigating the role of nutrients in helping the immune system fight against major infections demonstrated that vitamin A may be able to be used as an effective, inexpensive tool to fight the disease due to its unique interaction with cholesterol in the body.

The UCLA team detailed for the first time the mechanism by which vitamin A and a specific gene assist the immune system by reducing the level of cholesterol in cells infected with tuberculosis. This is important because cholesterol can be used by tuberculosis bacteria for nutrition and other needs, the researchers said.

Tuberculosis is a major global problem, affecting 2 billion people worldwide and causing an estimated 2 million deaths annually. Though at one time considered virtually “conquered” in western countries, they are now once again tackling the disease. Recent outbreaks have been documented in Los Angeles and London.

The rise of drug-resistant tuberculosis has been called a “ticking time bomb” by the World Health Organization, and the high cost of fighting the disease highlight the need for new approaches to treatment.

“If we can reduce the amount of cholesterol in a cell infected with tuberculosis, we may be able to aid the immune system in better responding to the infection,” said senior author Philip Liu, an assistant professor of medicine in the divisions of dermatology and orthopedic surgery at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine and Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center. “Understanding how nutrients like vitamin A are utilized by our immune system to fight infections may provide new treatment approaches.”

The the researchers, as always, caution that the research is preliminary, and that it’s too early to supplement with vitamin A specifically for combating tuberculosis. However, there’s plenty of other good reasons for supplementing with vitamin A… improving your odds against tuberculosis is just one more possible benefit.

For additional details, read Science Daily here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *