The study, presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference in the UK, is the first to investigate the role of vitamin D in recovery from burn injury – and suggests that vitamin D supplementation may be a simple and cost-effective solution to enhance burn healing.
"Major burn injury severely reduces vitamin D levels and adding this vitamin back may be a simple, safe and cost-effective way to improve outcomes for burns patients, with minimal cost,” commented study co-author Professor Janet Lord from the Institute of Inflammation & Aging in Birmingham.
The study followed the progression of 38 burns patients and health controls over the course of one year, to examine the relationship between severe burns injury and vitamin D – and how levels of vitamin D influenced burn patient outcomes.
It was found that the inactive circulating form of vitamin D, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25D3) and vitamin D binding protein (DBP) were both significantly reduced following major burn injury compared with healthy controls.
Furthermore, the UK-based team noted that the level of vitamin D reduction was not related to the severity of the burn. As such, they suggest vitamin D levels may also be decreased in more minor burn injuries.
"Low vitamin D levels were associated with worse outcomes in burn patients including life threatening infections, mortality and delayed wound healing. It was also associated with worse scarring but vitamin D levels are something generally overlooked by clinicians,” Lord added.
The findings also indicated that low serum vitamin D impaired tissue-specific antibacterial and wound healing responses in burn patients – potentially through tissue-specific activation and function.
As a result, the team suggested that supplementing with high doses of vitamin D to increase serum levels may greatly improve health outcomes in burns patients.
However they noted that the effectiveness of vitamin D supplementation to improve outcomes in burn patients would need to be verified in clinical trials.
Professor Lord and her team said future work will focus on figuring out why there is a rapid loss of vitamin D in patients straight after a burn injury – in the hope that they can prevent it happening.
Source: Endocrine Abstracts
Presented at the Society for Endocrinology annual conference, P030, doi: 10.1530/endoabs.50.P030
“Influence of vitamin D on outcomes following burn injury: An observational cohort study”
Authors: Khaled Al-Tarrah, et al