Scientists have discovered the mechanisms located inside the cells that are influenced and regulated by vitamin D3 according to a study published on the 6th of March in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. This new research could probably solve the problem of amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The study currently suggests that vitamin D3 could be responsible for the activation of genes and signaling networks that could influence the immune system to clear the amyloid proteins.
There have been earlier studies that suggested a link between vitamin D3, curcumin (also known as E100, a chemical substance found in Indian spices) and the stimulation of the immune system that led to clearing the amyloid proteins.
“This new study helped clarify the key mechanisms involved, which will help us better understand the usefulness of vitamin D3 and curcumin as possible therapies for Alzheimer’s disease”, said Dr. Milan Fiala, lead author of the study and researcher at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).
Scientists used the blood of healthy patients from the control group and patients that suffer from Alzheimer’s disease and isolated the immune cells that deal with the destruction of amyloid proteins. These cells are called macrophages and are in charge of clearing residual cells and other non-self particles from the body.
After the macrophages were isolated the team stored them in an enclosed space along with a quantity of amyloid. 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3, which is one of the active forms of vitamin D3 was added to the mixture in order to see what effect it had on the consumption of amyloid.
Earlier research conducted by scientists has shown that patients with Alzheimer’s have two types of macrophages. The first type (called Type I macrophages) show an improved rate of consumption after adding curcuminoids along with 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3, whilst the second type of macrophages (Type II macrophages) show an improved rate of consumption after adding only 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3.
However, researchers have found that 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 has the important role of opening the chloride channel 3 (an important channel that supports the phagocytosis done by the macrophages. The addition of curcuminoids only affected the opening of this particular chloride channel in the Type I macrophages. Research also shows that 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 plays a very important role in the triggering of the transcription (the first stage of gene expression) of these particular chloride channels.
There are very complex mechanisms that stand behind the effects of 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 on phagocytosis, being dependent on calcium. With the help of Dr. Patrick R. Griffin and Dr. Mathew T. Mizwicki, the team of scientists have shown that 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 has a crucial effect, by using a method called mass spectrometry. They have shown that 1a,25–dihydroxyvitamin D3 has a greater effect than curcuminoids.
“Our findings demonstrate that active forms of vitamin D3 may be an important regulator of immune activities of macrophages in helping to clear amyloid plaques by directly regulating the expression of genes, as well as the structural physical workings of the cells”, said Dr. Mizwicki.
The team of scientists suggests that the next important step in the research would be to assess the impact of vitamin D3 on Alzheimer’s disease patients through a clinical trial. The also add that ongoing studies already show that vitamin D3 could also be beneficial in the case reduction of other diseases as well, not just Alzheimer’s disease.