Insufficient vitamin D status has been linked to autoimmune diseases, cancer and metabolic disorders, like obesity and insulin resistance. In vitro and animal studies suggest that vitamin D may play a crucial role in immune activation and inflammation. The relation between vitamin D and pro-inflammatory cytokines is not completely established. Furthermore, it is not known if the effect of vitamin D on entities of metabolic syndrome is mediated through its effect on cytokines or other biomarkers. The objectives of this study were to investigate if there is a relationship between vitamin D status and such pro-inflammatory cytokines as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin 6 (IL-6) and high sensitive C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) in patients with overweigh and obesity. We also proposed that the intervention with high dose of cholecalciferol may have effect on the cytokine levels and result in corresponding changes in the measures of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR and QUICKI). Serum levels of IL-6, TNF-α and hs-CRP were measured in 332 overweight and obese subjects who completed a 1-year randomised intervention with either 40,000 IU vitamin D (cholecalciferol) per week or 20,000 IU vitamin D per week, or placebo. We found significant associations between IL-6, TNF-α, vitamin D and insulin resistance indices at baseline. One year intervention with vitamin D decreased serum IL-6 levels; however hs-CRP levels were significantly increased. Neither measures of insulin resistance, nor TNF-α were influenced by a 1-year vitamin D supplementation.
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