Vitamin combo may help treat kala azar

It could help in building immunity among people in kala azar-endemic areas of the country

By Sunderarajan Padmanabhan
Published: Monday 01 July 2019
A patient of Kala Azar. Photo: Srikant Caudhary
A patient of Kala Azar. Photo: Srikant Caudhary A patient of Kala Azar. Photo: Srikant Caudhary

A combination of Vitamin A and Vitamin D3 could be used to treat kala azar or visceral leishmaniasis, a team of scientists at the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, have found.

The parasite causing kala azar mostly affects the liver, spleen and bone marrow. There are only a few drugs available for treatment and those available are expensive, cause toxicity and need parenteral administration over long periods. In addition, multi-drug resistant strains are emerging.

Researchers chose to study the effects of the combination of the two vitamins since recent studies have shown that vitamin molecules can also play a role as antidotes against infectious diseases.

Specifically, vitamin A has been shown to prevent several ailments like diarrohea and respiratory diseases while vitamin D3 has been demonstrated to have therapeutic effects on various organs and tissues.

The scientists also looked at the viability of Vitamin A in combination with Chenodeoxycholic acid, which is a bile acid and which has been shown to prevent formation of gallstones.

The two combinations were tested in mice. It was found that in mice administered with the vitamin A-vitamin D3 combine, the load of the kala azar parasite reduced by as much as 81 per cent in the liver and 75 per cent in the spleen as compared to the control group.

The parasite load also got reduced in mice given vitamin A-Chenodeoxycholic acid but the effect was not that good. The parasite load in this group came down by only 45 per cent in liver and 47 per cent in spleen.

The researchers then probed the immune modulatory response of the two combos by inducing kala azar infection in mice that had been treated with them. They found that the mice that were treated with the vitamin A-vitamin D3 combo developed significant inhibition against the disease on the 21st day after administration.

The mice treated with vitamin A-Chenodeoxycholic acid combo did so on the 28th day. This indicates that the two combos could possibly be used as an adjunct to build immunity against the disease in people living in kala azar endemic areas. This could also be of use in treatment of kala azar not responding to the commonly-used drugs.

“We are excited with our findings. However, we need to conduct further studies before we can go in for clinical trials. A major advantage of the combos over the existing treatment could be that they may be less expensive and be amenable to being administered orally,” said Rakesh Sehgal, leader of the research team.

The study team included Venkateswara Reddy Gogulamudi, Mohan Lal Dubey, Ramesh Kandimalla, Deepak Kaul (PGIMER) and Donfack Jean Hubert (University of Dschang, Cameroon).

The study results have been published in journal Scientific Reports.  (India Science Wire)

Subscribe to Daily Newsletter :
Related Stories

Comments are moderated and will be published only after the site moderator’s approval. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name. Selected comments may also be used in the ‘Letters’ section of the Down To Earth print edition.