Preprint Review Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

The Essential Role of Vitamin D in the Biosynthesis of Endogenous Antimicrobial Peptides May Explain Why Deficiency Increases Mortality Risk in COVID-19 Infections

Version 1 : Received: 15 May 2020 / Approved: 16 May 2020 / Online: 16 May 2020 (16:02:26 CEST)

How to cite: McCullough, P.J.; Amend, J.; McCullough, W.P.; Repas, S.J.; Travers, J.B.; Lehrer, D.S. The Essential Role of Vitamin D in the Biosynthesis of Endogenous Antimicrobial Peptides May Explain Why Deficiency Increases Mortality Risk in COVID-19 Infections. Preprints 2020, 2020050265 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0265.v1). McCullough, P.J.; Amend, J.; McCullough, W.P.; Repas, S.J.; Travers, J.B.; Lehrer, D.S. The Essential Role of Vitamin D in the Biosynthesis of Endogenous Antimicrobial Peptides May Explain Why Deficiency Increases Mortality Risk in COVID-19 Infections. Preprints 2020, 2020050265 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202005.0265.v1).

Abstract

Abstract: A primary action of vitamin D is regulation of gene transcription. Many cell types possess genes that make antimicrobial peptides (AMPS) (endogenous antibiotics), recently discovered to be regulated by vitamin D. Two examples are cathelicidin and beta defensins, both bioactive against many different bacteria, fungi, mycobacteria, parasites and viruses. The signal transduction pathway is triggered by sensing microorganisms via cell surface receptors, causing intracellular production of calcitriol (1,25(OH)2D) and vitamin D receptors, leading to upregulation of AMP production. Serum 25(OH)D concentrations required to sustain adequate AMP production to eradicate infections are unknown. Vitamin D3 is photosynthesized in skin in amounts ranging from 10,000 (250 mcg) to 25,000 (625 mcg) International Units (IU) from 7-dehydrocholesterol after whole-body exposure to one minimal erythemal dose (MED) of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation, and is impacted by many factors including geographic localities, seasonal changes and skin pigmentation. We and others have reported extended daily oral dosing with these amounts of vitamin D3 safe. We routinely observe serum 25(OH)D concentrations below 20ng/ml on new admissions, which have been reported insufficient to sustain AMP production. In contrast serum 25(OH)D concentrations above 100ng/ml have been reported after serial UVB treatments for psoriasis. Little vitamin D naturally occurs in food, and insufficient sun exposure may be causing worldwide deficiency. We review evidence suggesting that higher daily intakes of vitamin D3 than the currently recommended 600 (15 mcg) IU/day may be necessary to sustain AMP production in the face of an overwhelming infection, particularly in non-Hispanic blacks, a high risk population suffering the worst outcomes from COVID-19. We propose that increased vitamin D supplementation could provide a safe and cost-effective way to protect all populations from infections, in particular those from pandemic COVID-19.

Subject Areas

vitamin D; cathelicidin; antimicrobial peptides; bacteria; mycobacteria; virus; coronavirus; sunshine; UVB phototherapy; tuberculosis; COVID-19; photosynthesis

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