PennState researchers have demonstrated on aspect of vitamin A’s role in the immune response. Research suggests that the vitamin’s active form may enhance the effectiveness of interferon. Many studies on animals have shown that vitamin A affects immune responses and inflammation.
In autoimmune diseases, like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, the immune system attacks the body. Some autoimmune diseases are being treated with a modified form of interferon. Researcher, Dr. Catherine Ross, suggests that this new research suggests that vitamin A enhances natural interferon’s regulatory response. Less interferon may be necessary when there is enough of active vitamin A. Vitamin A many help enhance the effectiveness of interferon therapy in autoimmune diseases.
In the research, macrophages (white blood cells involve in immunity) were stimulated under vitamin A deficient conditions and in conditions where there was adequate vitamin A. The cells with adequate vitamin A showed increased interferon activity. Vitamin A can also inhibit inflammatory chemicals like tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
The research was presented April 2, 2001 at the Experimental Biology 2001 conference in Orlando, Fla., by Dr. Qiuyan Chen, research associate, who is first author of the Penn State’s team’s paper. The paper is titled, “Effect of retinoic acid in lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and cytokine induced signal transducers and activators of transcription-1 (STAT-1) activation and expression in human THP-1 monocytic cells.” The co-authors are Yifan Ma, a graduate fellow and research assistant, and Dr. Ross.