Treating vitamin D deficiency may improve depression among women
CHEVY CHASE, Md. — A case report series presented at the Endocrine Society’s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston examined how women with moderate to severe depression could see an improvement in symptoms if they are treated for their vitamin D deficiency.
Sonal Pathak, an endocrinologist at Bayhealth Medical Center in Dover, Del., presented research findings from three women, ages 42 to 66 years, all of whom were previously diagnosed with major depressive disorder and were receiving antidepressant therapy. The patients also were being treated for either Type 2 diabetes or an underactive thyroid (hypothyroidism). Over eight to 12 weeks, the women were given oral vitamin D replacement therapy to restore their vitamin D status to normal (32 to 38 ng/mL) after experiencing levels that ranged from 8.9 to 14.5 ng/mL. Levels below 21 ng/mL are considered vitamin D deficiency, while normal vitamin D levels are above 30 ng/mL, according to the Endocrine Society.
After treatment, all three women reported significant improvement in their depression, as found using the Beck Depression Inventory, a 21-item questionnaire that scores the severity of sadness and other symptoms of depression. A score of zero to nine indicates minimal depression; 10 to 18, mild depression; 19 to 29, moderate depression; and 30 to 63, severe depression.
One patient’s depression score improved from 32 before vitamin D therapy to 12, a change from severe to mild depression. The second patient’s score fell from 26 to 8, indicating she now had minimal symptoms of depression. The third patient’s score of 21 improved after vitamin D treatment to 16, also in the mild range.
"Vitamin D may have an as-yet-unproven effect on mood, and its deficiency may exacerbate depression," Pathak said. "If this association is confirmed, it may improve how we treat depression. Screening at-risk depressed patients for vitamin D deficiency and treating it appropriately may be an easy and cost-effective adjunct to mainstream therapies for depression."
Study examines immune system’s response to sleep deprivation
DARIEN, Ill. — Sleep deprivation prompts an immediate response from the body’s immune system, according to a new study.
The "Diurnal Rhythms in Blood Cell Populations and the Effect of Acute Sleep Deprivation in Healthy Young Men" study — a collaborative effort between the department of forensic molecular biology at Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam and chronobiology, faculty of health and medical sciences at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom — categorized and measured the white blood cells (known as granulocytes) from 15 young men.
During the first part of the study, the participants were placed on a strict schedule of eight hours of sleep every day for a week, were exposed to at least 15 minutes of outdoor light within the first 90 minutes of waking and were prohibited from using caffeine, alcohol or medication during the final three days. During the second part of the study, the participants were exposed to 29 hours of continued wakefulness. When comparing white blood cell counts in a normal sleep/wake cycle with white blood cell counts in a state of sleep deprivation, the researchers discovered that white blood cells showed a loss of day-night rhythmicity, as well as increased numbers, particularly at night.
"Future research will reveal the molecular mechanisms behind this immediate stress response and elucidate its role in the development of diseases associated with chronic sleep loss," said Katrin Ackermann, a postdoctoral researcher at the Eramus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam in the Netherlands and the study’s lead author. "If confirmed with more data, this will have implications for clinical practice and for professions associated with long-term sleep loss, such as rotating shift work. The granulocytes reacted immediately to the physical stress of sleep loss and directly mirrored the body’s stress response."