Vitamin D trialled to save Type 2 diabetes patients from chronic diseases

Posted on Friday 14 June 2013

Vitamin D is being trialled to see if it can limit the impact of chronic kidney and heart disease on people with Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers from Guy’s and St Thomas’ and King’s College London are running two trials to investigate whether Vitamin D can improve the often fatal effects of the chronic conditions that occur in 30-40% of people with Type 2 diabetes.

Throughout Diabetes Awareness Week, which runs until June 15, the specialists are hoping to recruit more people on to their trials.

Professor Luigi Gnudi, consultant in diabetes and endocrinology at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who is running the trials with his colleague Dr Janaka Karalliedde, said: “Few patients with Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney and heart disease will make it to dialysis or transplant; the majority unfortunately will succumb to the diseases before that point.

“Type 2 diabetes commonly causes chronic kidney and heart disease because of the toxic effect of high sugar on the organs. Once kidney disease sets in, it is often paralleled by cardiovascular disease with enlargement of the heart and hardening of the arteries.

“Vitamin D is activated by the kidneys, therefore when these are diseased, the body cannot process and use Vitamin D in the way it needs, becoming deficient.”

The trials stem from preliminary data found in the USA, following observational clinical studies, showing that Vitamin D can be protective of the heart and prevent damage of the arteries and blood vessels.

Participants in the studies will have the size of their heart assessed by an MRI scan and have the stiffness of their arteries measured by a non-invasive procedure, which measures the speed of pressure waves travelling through the arteries.

These tests will be carried out both before and after participants are given Vitamin D supplements to take once a day.

“We will be looking for any improvements the Vitamin D makes to the size and function of the heart and the stiffness of the arteries,” added Professor Gnudi, who with his team will be running the trial over the next two years.

“In the long term, we hope that if these trials are successful we can run a follow-up trial to assess the benefit of Vitamin D on the final stages of kidney disease, stroke, heart attacks and cardiovascular death, with the overall aim being to reverse the effects of the diseases so that people can live healthier for longer.”

Matthew Hobbs, Director of Research at Diabetes UK, said:  “The complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, amputation and stroke, can be devastating and in many cases are avoidable.

“This research by Professor Gnudi and his team could go some way to helping us improve the lives of people living with diabetes, but the researchers can only answer these important questions with the help of willing volunteers.

“Diabetes Week is an important time to reflect on the important breakthroughs in diabetes research over the last 80 years and look to the future possibilities for diabetes care, treatments and possibly even cures.   Diabetes UK funds over 125 research projects at any one time on all types of the condition.”

The trials have already begun and need more participants. If you have Type 2 diabetes and chronic kidney disease, and would like to find out more please contact Professor Gnudi on



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