White noted that people who live in northern climates — which receive less sunshine that is essential for the fabrication of Vitamin D by the human body — are especially vulnerable to Crohn’s disease.
White and his colleagues treated cancer cells in the lab with Vitamin D, and then carried out a micro-array or genetic analysis of those cells. They found that Vitamin D switched on two genes that are important in preventing or fighting Crohn’s disease.
“It’s reasonable to think that Vitamin D deficiency can contribute to the frequency of the disease,” White said. “Siblings of patients with Crohn’s disease that haven’t yet developed the disease might be well advised to make sure they’re Vitamin D sufficient.”
As for whether taking Vitamin D could be an effective treatment for Crohn’s, White was cautious, saying that would have to be demonstrated in a clinical trial.
The White study was published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry