Topical Vitamin D as Potential Therapy for Chronic Kidney Disease-Associated Pruritus

Topical Vitamin D as Potential Therapy for Chronic Kidney Disease-Associated Pruritus

A study recently published in The Journal of Dermatology revealed that topical vitamin D therapy can be considered a safe and effective approach for the treatment of pruritus associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD). The study entitled “Effect of topical vitamin D on chronic kidney disease-associated pruritus: An open-label pilot study” was developed by researchers at Eulji University Hospital in Korea.

CKD is a medical condition characterized by the gradual loss of kidney function over time that can eventually lead to kidney failure, a situation in which the patient will have to undergo either dialysis or a kidney transplant. CKD can be caused by disorders like diabetes or high blood pressure, and is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases. It is estimated that 26 million American adults suffer from the disease.

CKD-associated pruritus (strong skin itching) is a serious symptom in patients with end-stage renal disease, especially among those receiving dialysis, that can impair the patient’s quality of life.

Vitamin D plays an important role in mineral homeostasis in the body, including calcium. Its deficiency has been recently suggested to be a possible cause of CKD-associated pruritus, although there is a lack of data on the use of topical vitamin D as an effective therapy for mitigating pruritus.

Now, researchers investigated the efficacy and safety of topical vitamin D in patients with CKD-associated pruritus. In total, 23 patients were instructed to apply twice daily for a month a topical vitamin D (calcipotriol) agent (Daivonex solution; LEO Pharma) or a control solution. Patients were evaluated every 2 weeks through clinical parameters, dermoscopic photographs and specific questionnaires to assess pruritus [namely the validated modified pruritus assessment score (VMPAS) and the visual analog scale (VAS)].

Researchers found that topical vitamin D treatment significantly improves the dryness (scales) of the skin in comparison to the control treatment. Both VMPAS and VAS scores were found to be significantly reduced after 2 and 4 weeks of topical vitamin D treatment in comparison to the control. The team reported no significant adverse events related to the treatment.

The authros concluded that topical vitamin D treatment can significantly reduce pruritus severity and improve the skin surface condition, therefore suggesting it could be considered a potential safe and effective therapeutic strategy for patients with CKD-associated pruritus. The authors believe that the application of topical vitamin D may be able to regulate the abnormal calcium gradient and the elevated levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines that have been reported in patients with CKD-associated pruritus.

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Patrícia holds her PhD in Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases from the Leiden University Medical Center in Leiden, The Netherlands. She has studied Applied Biology at Universidade do Minho and was a postdoctoral research fellow at Instituto de Medicina Molecular in Lisbon, Portugal. Her work has been focused on molecular genetic traits of infectious agents such as viruses and parasites.

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