The vitamin D positive feedback hypothesis of inflammatory bowel diseases

Linneman Z1, Reis C1, Balaji K2, Moore J2, Braude S3. Med Hypotheses. 2019 Jun;127:154-158. doi: 10.1016/j.mehy.2019.04.005. Epub 2019 Apr 16.


Author information

Biology Department, Washington University, United States.

Radiation Oncology, Washington U. School of Medicine, United States.

Biology Department, Washington University, United States. Electronic address: braude@wustl.edu.


While it appears that there are a variety of factors that exacerbate IBD, it is frustrating that symptoms can persist and worsen even when environmental insults are removed. We suggest that there may be a positive feedback loop which perpetuates the inflammatory response in IBD patients. The loop is triggered by vitamin D deficiency which reduces calcium uptake. Lowered vitamin D and calcium interfere with anti-inflammatory pathways. Inflammation of the mucosa inhibits absorption of calcium and thus perpetuates the reduced anti-inflammatory response. A number of predictions follow from this hypothesis and are supported by geographic and lifestyle patterns in IBD incidence and prevalence.

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