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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia State Researcher Studies Vitamin D Receptor Genes in South African TB Patients

A study first-authored by a researcher at Georgia State University School of Public Health recently investigated the importance of mutations in genetic receptors for Vitamin D in treatment of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis in South Africa.

Most previous studies that tested vitamin D as part of the therapy for patients with tuberculosis did not find any treatment benefit of augmentation with vitamin D. However, vitamin D may be helpful for a subset of people who have genetic mutations in the vitamin D receptor gene. To determine whether vitamin D provides anti-inflammatory or anti-bacterial effects in patients with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis will require additional clinical research.

Little research has been conducted into the presence of these vitamin D receptor mutations in African populations. Meanwhile, South Africa has a high rate of TB that is resistant to standard “first line” drug treatment.

The current study involved genetic analyses of 91 patients with drug-resistant TB from KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Researchers identified 9 vitamin D receptors that are associated with lower rates of response to second-line treatment (that is, treatment that is used in patients who do not respond to the first line drugs). The findings provide new data about the presence of vitamin D receptors in South African populations, information which may support the development of improved clinical treatment for patients with the most challenging cases of TB.

Dr. Matthew J. Magee, assistant professor of epidemiology and biostatistics, at Georgia State University is lead author of the study.

[Photo: Dr. Matthew J. Magee]

The research findings are published in the journal PLOS ONE as, “Polymorphisms in the vitamin D receptor gene are associated with reduced rate of sputum culture conversion in multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients in South Africa.