New Study Suggests Vitamin D May be Extra Important for Farmers


Inthe first study of its kind, results of a Universityof Nebraska Medical Center research study suggest that vitamin D may beimportant for individuals exposed to agricultural organic dust.

In the study,researchers found a significant decrease in lung inflammation in mice exposedto hog barn dust that received high doses of vitamin D.

"We found that the relatively highvitamin D treatment group had significantly decreased lung inflammation. Themice still got inflammation but didn't get it as bad," said JillPoole, M.D., associate professor in the UNMC Department of InternalMedicine and principal investigator of the study.

"We know that vitamin D changes theexpression of key molecules that respond to the dust, and through thisresponse, we think vitamin D may be helpful in lessening disease brought on byagricultural dust," Dr. Poole said.

Workerson today's farms are exposed to a variety of high levels of agriculturalorganic dust – dust that comes from feed, bedding andlivestock, which includes mold, pollen, bacteria, pesticides, and chemicals.Exposure can lead to inflammation in the lungs and a risk of developing COPD.

Over time, exposure to organic dust canresult in serious respiratoryillnesses, such as organic dust toxic syndromeand Farmer's lung.

Dr. Poole said initial exposure inhumans to organic dust induces an intense airway inflammatory response thatwanes over time, but repetitive exposure causes an increased risk of lungfunction decline, persistent inflammation and progressive respiratoryimpairment.

Researchers used unique mouse modelsthat were exposed to hog barn dust. One group received a high vitamin D dietand the other a low vitamin D diet.

Though there are a lot of thingsresearchers still need to figure out, based on the initial findings in mice,Dr. Poole hopes that those with or without lung disease exposed to agriculturaldust consider taking vitamin D. She also recommends they ask primary careproviders to check vitamin D levels to find out if they are deficient.

The study,published in the Journal of Biochemical and Molecular Toxicology, was funded bythe National Institute of Health Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Agricultural Safety and Health Center at the UNMC College ofPublic Health.

Dr. Poole said limitations of the studywere it involved mice, not humans, and the study didn't measure exposure over along period of time. She said more studies in humans are warranted to determinevitamin D levels in farmers and if vitamin D supplementation could improve healthoutcomes.

OtherUNMC researchers in the study included: lead author, Gregory Golden,M.D., Todd Wyatt,Ph.D., Deb Romberger,M.D., DanielReiff, Michael McCaskill,Ph.D., Christopher Bauer, and Angela Gleason.

Courtesy- University of Nebraska Medical Center