A set of mutations in the gene for the vitamin D receptor are more common in patients with severe eczema than they are in controls or patients with moderate eczema, a group of German researchers has found.
In a paper in press at the British Journal of Dermatology, the scientists explain that this set of mutations, or "haplotype," likely does not cause eczema but combines with other factors to make the disease more severe.
Vitamin D is widely touted on the internet as a miracle cure for many conditions including eczema. Clinical data on links between eczema and vitamin D is spotty. However, it's known that vitamin D plays an important role in inflammation--and eczema is nothing if not an inflammatory disease.
The mutations of interest occur not in the coding region of the gene, but in an upstream regulatory region, which means that the structure of the vitamin D receptor is not changed, but the amount of the receptor that the body produces is probably reduced. That would indicate to me that consuming excessive vitamin D could be of little help in treating severe eczema, since the body would simply not have the receptors present to react to the supplements
The scientists, led by Margitta Worm at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, sampled DNA from two groups of adults: a control group of 259, and a group of 265 eczema patients, 142 of whom were classified as severe cases. The scientists found that the odds of the severe group having any one of three particular mutations was about 50% higher than for the control group.