Maintenance of wintertime vitamin D status with cholecalciferol supplementation is not associated with alterations in serum cytokine concentrations among apparently healthy younger or older adults

Maria S Barnes, Geraldine Horigan, Kevin D Cashman, Tom R Hill, L Kirsty Forsythe, Alice J Lucey, Emeir M McSorley, Mairead Kiely, Maxine P Bonham, Pamela J Magee, J J Strain, Julie M W Wallace
Journal of Nutrition 2011, 141 (3): 476-81
Epidemiological studies have shown that low vitamin D status results in impaired immune function and is associated with the prevalence of autoimmune and inflammatory conditions. Vitamin D supplementation has been shown to reduce circulating concentrations of inflammatory markers in such conditions. However, the possible beneficial effect of vitamin D supplementation in the general population, particularly for those individuals living at high latitudes where hypovitaminosis D is common during wintertime, remains unclear. The aim of this study was to assess the effect of vitamin D supplementation using doses of 5, 10, and 15 μg/d cholecalciferol (D3) compared with placebo on cytokine concentrations throughout winter in apparently healthy younger (aged 20-40 y) and older (aged ≥64 y) adults. A total of 211 younger and 202 older adults completed the 22-wk intervention (from October to March) with >85% compliance. Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxycholecalciferol [25(OH)D3], high sensitivity C-reactive protein, IL-6, IL-10, soluble CD40 ligand, TGFβ, TNFα, and fibrinogen were measured using ELISA. 25(OH)D3 concentrations significantly decreased in the placebo and 5 and 10/d μg D3 groups in the younger cohort and in the placebo group in the older cohort. Whereas 15 μg/d D3 supplementation maintained 25(OH)D3 concentrations in the younger cohort (baseline, 75.9 nmol/L; postintervention, 69.0 nmol/L) and significantly increased concentrations in the older cohort (baseline, 55.1 nmol/L; postintervention, 73.9 nmol/L), it had no significant effect on cytokine concentrations (ANCOVA, P > 0.05). The long-term effects of low vitamin D status remain to be elucidated and optimization of vitamin D status in otherwise healthy individuals may potentially have lasting beneficial effects on the immune system.

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