Vitamin D Shows Promise in Lowering Risk of Cardiovascular Disease

A new review identified vitamin D as an important factor in maintaining endothelial progenitor cell health and function, which can impact risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Vitamin D may lower risk of childhood type 1 diabetes by 33% and has a myriad of other health benefits, including a role as an antithrombotic, antihypertensive, anti-inflammatory, and anti-fibrotic, according to authors of a study published in the Journal of Lipid and Atherosclerosis. Further, by increasing the expression of endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs), vitamin D may lower one’s risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD).

“Recent research suggest that vitamin D also plays an important role in vascular remodeling and healing of damaged endothelium by increasing the circulatory level and functionality of EPCs,” wrote study authors.

EPCs are derived from bone marrow. In a mounting number of studies, their function has been shown to reflect endogenous vascular regenerative capacity and repair a damaged endothelium—this could be a significant method of preventing cardiovascular disorders and CVD.

Evidence from data pulled from clinical trials conducted over past 2 decades also shows that vitamin D can benefit bone health, calcium metabolism, and influence risk of CVD and cancer because of its impact on EPC activity. The study authors noted that in their review of the data, they looked specifically at different trials assessing the associations between vitamin D and EPCs, EPCs and CVD, and other conditions that may be impacted by the former agents and the disease.

The study investigators found at least 60 genes that are regulated by vitamin D. Further, it is believed that vitamin D, which was found to impact the efficacy of circulating EPCs, may act as a hormone that can facilitate endothelial stem cell production. Notably, the study authors explained that this may link with the findings of previous study conducted by Oliveras et al., where it was observed that EPC levels could predict vascular health independent of other risk factors.

Looking at this association between vitamin D and cardiovascular health, the study authors explained that vitamin D was found to indirectly modifiy CVD risk through its association with a cardiovascular risk factor. A further study also found that improved endothelial function and decreased production of reactive oxygen species can occur by forcing expression of EPCs.

A different clinical trial looked at the role of diet and EPCs. Researchers compared the effects of the high-fat Mediterranean diet to the effects of a low-fat diet on EPC circulation in newly dosed diabetic patients. The findings showed that the Mediterranean diet increased EPCs in the body, reducing intracellular oxidative stress and increasing angiogenesis.

Additionally, multiple studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to vascular complications because of impaired EFC function—the negative outcomes may be especially prominent among premenopausal women, patients with diabetes, and pregnant women.

“Determining the mechanistic pathways of beneficial functions of vitamin D on EPCs will be critical for the translation of vitamin D as therapeutic agent in a subset of individuals with defective EPC functions or vitamin D deficiency,” study authors wrote.

Reference

Sen A, Vincent V, Thakkar H, et al. Beneficial Role of Vitamin D on Endothelial Progenitor Cells (EPCs) in Cardiovascular Diseases. J Lipid Atheroscler. 2022 Sep; 11(3): 229–249. Published online 2022 Apr 29. doi:10.12997/jla.2022.11.3.229