18 Feb 2021
Vitamin D is one of the 13 vitamins that we need to maintain our health and wellbeing. We can obtain vitamin D from our diet (oily fish, liver, egg yolks) and additionally we can produce vitamin D from cholesterol when we expose our skin to sunlight. While vitamin D is well known as playing a role in building healthy bones through regulation of calcium and phosphorus, evidence is emerging that vitamin D may play a role in combating infections. Vitamin D exerts its effect through a molecule called the vitamin D receptor, which when bound to vitamin D moves to the cell nucleus and activates the transcription of a number of genes. In a recent study published in the Nature Publishing Group journal Scientific Reports, lead author Janejira Jaratsittisin and colleagues investigated the anti-dengue virus activity of a number of compounds that are known to interact with the vitamin D receptor (vitamin D receptor agonists).
The compounds were shown be strongly antiviral, and were able to reduce infection of not only dengue virus, but also Japanese encephalitis virus and Zika virus, suggesting that these compounds have the possibility to be developed as broad spectrum antivirals.
Several studies by other groups have suggested that there may be links between vitamin D levels and the response to infection with the new SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19, and thus it is likely that there are still gaps in our understanding of how vitamin D contributes to our health and wellbeing.
Jaratsittisin J, Xu B, Sornjai W, Weng J, Kuadkitkan A, Li F, Zhou GC, Smith DR. Activity of vitamin D receptor agonists against dengue virus. Scientific Reports 2020;10:10835.
Infections with the dengue virus are a significant problem, not only in Thailand, but also in many tropical and sub-tropical countries around the world and there is currently no preventive vaccine or effective drug for treatment.
Analysis of the Drosophila melanogaster genome database identifies a diverse superfamily of glutathione transferases (GSTs).