June 21, 2024
Vitamin D

Vitamin D Boosts Cancer Immunity in Mice by Encouraging the Growth of Bacteroides fragilis in the Gut

New research from the Francis Crick Institute, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Aalborg University in Denmark reveals that vitamin D plays a crucial role in enhancing cancer immunity in mice by promoting the growth of a specific gut bacterium, Bacteroides fragilis.

The study, published in the journal Science, demonstrates that mice fed a vitamin D-rich diet exhibited enhanced immune resistance against experimentally transplanted cancers and improved responses to immunotherapy treatment. This effect was also observed when researchers used gene editing to eliminate a protein that binds to vitamin D in the blood and prevents it from reaching tissues.

The researchers were taken aback to discover that vitamin D influences epithelial cells in the intestine, which in turn boosts the presence of Bacteroides fragilis. This microbe significantly improved cancer immunity in mice, as transplanted tumors grew less aggressively. However, the researchers are still unsure of the exact mechanism behind this phenomenon.

To further investigate the potential of Bacteroides fragilis in conferring better cancer immunity, mice on a standard diet were administered this bacterium. These mice also displayed improved resistance to tumor growth, but only when they were not on a vitamin D-deficient diet.

Previous research has suggested a correlation between vitamin D deficiency and increased cancer risk in humans, although the evidence has been inconclusive. This new study sheds light on the potential role of vitamin D and Bacteroides fragilis in enhancing cancer immunity and could pave the way for new therapeutic approaches.

1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
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