Recent findings published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine have linked severe therapy-resistant asthma (STRA) attacks in children to lowered levels of vitamin D.
According to the study, it is possible that low vitamin D levels cause a change in the structural airway muscles of children with STRA.
“This study clearly demonstrates that low levels of vitamin D are associated with poorer lung function, increased use of medication, worse symptoms and an increase in the mass of airway smooth muscle in children with STRA.” Dr. Gupta adds, “It is therefore plausible that the link between airway smooth muscle mass and lung function in severe asthma may be partly explained by low levels of vitamin D.”
The study also reveals that 5 to 10 percent of children with asthma do not respond to standard treatments, and those STRA patients end up with more asthma-related symptoms and illnesses.
According to Dr. Gupra:
“Little is known about vitamin D status and its effect on asthma pathophysiology in these patients…For our study, we hypothesized that children with STRA would have lower levels of vitamin D than moderate asthmatics, and that lower levels of vitamin D would be associated with worse lung function and changes in the airway muscle tissue.”
The study examined 86 children of which 36 had STRA; 26 experienced moderate asthma attacks, and 24 had no asthma symptoms at all and were used as a control group. Researchers examined each child by monitoring their vitamin D levels and lung function, medication usage, and symptom exacerbations. In the STRA group, tissue samples were also taken to examine structure changes in the airway’s smooth muscle
Dr. Gupta says of his group’s findings:
“The results of this study suggest that lower levels of vitamin D in children with STRA contribute to an increase in airway smooth muscle mass, which could make breathing more difficult and cause a worsening of asthma symptoms.”
While the study shows a promising correlation between STRA and vitamin D deficiencies, the group plans to study larger case sets to confirm their findings.
Gupta, A., A. Sjoukes, D. Richards, W. Banya, C. Hawrylowicz, A. Bush & S. Saglani. 2011. Relationship between serum vitamin D, disease severity and airway remodeling in children with asthma. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Centrum Vitamins: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wyeth_Centrum.jpg