Background: Vitamin D is traditionally associated with bone metabolism. The immunological effects of vitamin D have increasingly come into focus.
Aim: To review the evidence supporting a role of vitamin D in inflammatory bowel diseases.
Methods: A comprehensive search was performed on PubMed using the terms 'crohn's disease' 'ulcerative colitis' and 'vitamin D'.
Results: Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) (16-95%) including those with recently diagnosed disease. Evidence supports immunological role of vitamin D in IBD. In animal models, deficiency of vitamin D increases susceptibility to dextran sodium sulphate colitis, while 1,25(OH)2 D3 ameliorates such colitis. One prospective cohort study found low predicted vitamin D levels to be associated with an increased risk of Crohn's disease (CD). Limited data also suggest an association between low vitamin D levels and increased disease activity, particularly in CD. In a large cohort, vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/mL) was associated with increased risk of surgery (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.2-2.5) in CD and hospitalisations in both CD (OR 2.1, 95% CI 1.6-2.7) and UC (OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.7-3.1). A single randomised controlled trial demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation may be associated with reduced frequency of relapses in patients with CD compared with placebo (13% vs. 29%, P = 0.06).
Conclusions: There is growing epidemiological evidence to suggest a role for vitamin D deficiency in the development of IBD and also its influence on disease severity. The possible therapeutic role of vitamin D in patients with IBD merits continued investigation.
© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.