In cancer patients receiving immune checkpoint inhibitors, the administration of Vitamin D supplements can diminish the incidence of colitis.
A novel research depicted that in patients treated with ICIs (immune checkpoint inhibitors), taking vitamin D supplements is linked with reduced risk for the development of ICI colitis (a potentially serious side effect of anti-cancer therapy).
ICIs aid the immune system to identify and fight with the cancer cells. Although these treatment regimens have been valuable for many cancer patients, they can cause an intense inflammatory reaction in the colon. ICI-induced colitis can lead to discontinuation of treatment and restrict the usage of such life-saving drugs.
Colitis is one of the most severe and common adverse effects of cancer immunotherapy. However, to avoid the colitis incidence, there is a paucity of understanding of the risk factors that could be altered. Previous studies have elucidated that in cases of autoimmune diseases and inflammatory bowel disease, the administration of vitamin D may affect the immune system.
Thus, a retrospective study was conducted in cancer patients to examine whether vitamin D supplements intake might diminish the risk of colitis in patients receiving ICIs. Between 2011 and 2017, the study included information on 213 melanoma patients receiving ICIs. Colitis was found to occur in 37 (17 %) patients. Before initiating treatment with ICIs, 66 patients (31%) took vitamin D supplements. It was found that subjects who took vitamin D had 65 % lower odds of developing colitis.
In another cohort of 169 patients, these findings were further substantiated. Overall, colitis occurred in 49 patients (29 %). The administration of vitamin D in this group was found to be linked with 54 % lower odds of developing colitis. The close association between vitamin D intake and minimized risk for colitis incidence could potentially affect clinical practice if authenticated in future prospective studies.
Further testing of Vitamin D supplementation is warranted. These tests should examine whether Vitamin D intake in cancer patients could be a safe, easily accessible, and cost-effective approach towards preventing gastrointestinal toxicity and extending the effectiveness of ICIs treatment.