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Vitamin D supplementation protects pigs from coronavirus-induced diarrhea

Updated: Feb 26, 2020

Already proven in human and animal studies to provide many antiviral, anti-infectious, and anti-inflammatory benefits, vitamin D was shown in this study to provide protection against porcine diarrhea coronavirus infection

Dietary 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 Alleviates Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Coronavirus Infection by Improving Intestinal Structure and Immune Response in Weaned Pigs (Animals 2019 Aug[1]): Porcine epidemic diarrhoea (PED) is a viral intestinal infection seen in pigs caused by the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) belonging to the coronavirus family.[2] The infection causes damage to the inner lining of the intestines, specifically “severe diarrhea, reduction of villous height and the ratio of villous height to crypt depth, and increase of crypt depth and serum diamine oxidase activity. 25-OH-vitamin D3 supplementation “alleviated intestinal damage” and “downregulated the mRNA abundance of inflammatory cytokines and interferon signal pathway-related genes” thereby suggesting that this form of vitamin D3 “could alleviate intestinal damage and protect against PEDV-induced inflammatory status.” 

Perspective from DrV: The authors of this study used a semi-activated form of vitamin D3, which is the form of vitamin D3 produced in the liver following supplementation with or cutaneous production of vitamin D3; humans are generally readily able to convert vitamin D3 into 25-OH-vitamin D3 as this step is not highly regulated and proceeds in a dose-response relationship except in patients with very severe liver disease. As such, supplementation with either vitamin D3 or 25-OH-vitamin D3 is essentially equivalent. As expected via the numerous barrier-supporting, antiinflammatory, and anti-replicative effects of vitamin D3, supplementation with this vitamin-hormone was shown to alleviate this coronavirus-induced disease in this animal model. In humans, low vitamin D status in children increases risk for rotaviral diarrhea.[3]

  1. Yang et al. Dietary 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 Supplementation Alleviates Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus Infection by Improving Intestinal Structure and Immune Response in Weaned Pigs. Animals (Basel). 2019 Aug 29;9(9). pii: E627. doi: 10.3390/ani9090627

  2. Brnic et al. The emergence of porcine epidemic diarrhoea in Croatia: molecular characterization and serology. BMC Veterinary Research 2019 Jul

  3. "For children under 5 years of age, 1700 000 000 episodes of diarrhea are seen worldwide, and death occurs in 700 000 of these cases due to diarrhea. Rotavirus is an important cause of diarrhea in this age group, and many studies have shown that vitamin D plays a pivotal role in the immune system, as well as in antimicrobial peptide gene expression. In addition, lower vitamin D has been correlated with higher rates of infectious diseases such as respiratory tract infection, tuberculosis, and viral infection. … Low vitamin D is associated with rotaviral diarrhea." Bucak et al. Is there a relationship between low vitamin D and rotaviral diarrhea? Pediatr Int. 2016 Apr;58(4):270-3. doi: 10.1111/ped.12809

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