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Newly identified mechanism helps explain why people of African descent are more vulnerable to TB

of the puzzles of tuberculosis, the differences between mice and human antibacterial mechanisms, and the susceptibility of people of African and possibly Asian descent to tuberculosis. The researchers suggest a need for clinical trials to investigate the effect of vitamin D supplementation.

"Our results indicate that we have much yet to learn about human immune responses to infections. They also emphasize the importance of vitamin D in human immune responses, and suggest that it is now important to learn how much vitamin D is optimal for innate immunity, and how that can best be achieved through diet or supplementation," said the senior investigator of these studies, Dr. Robert Modlin, Klein Professor of Dermatology and Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

"Tuberculosis is a devastating disease that strikes vulnerable populations particularly hard," said immunologist Barry R. Bloom, Dean of the Faculty at HSPH and a co-author of the paper. "This study provides a new mechanism for innate immunity in humans and demonstrates how variations in vitamin D synthesis may make individuals susceptible to TB infection. It is exciting to consider the possibility that innate immunity to tuberculosis and other infections in vulnerable populations might be enhanced by providing a simple vitamin that would cost only pennies a day."


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Source:Harvard School of Public Health


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