Vitamin D deficiency can strongly exaggerate opioid cravings and their effects, increasing addiction and the risk of addiction, according to a new study led by researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH). The results of these surveys are Science AdvancesAddressing the common problem of vitamin D deficiency with cheap supplements suggests that it may play a role in combating the ongoing tragedy of opioid addiction.
David E. Fisher, MD, Ph.D., Director of the Massachusetts Cancer Center’s Melanoma Program and Director of the MGH Center for Skin Biology (CBRC). Early research by, laid the foundation for current research. In 2007, Fisher and his team discovered something unexpected. When exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light (specifically called UVB), the skin produces the hormone endorphin, which is chemically associated with morphine, heroin, and other opioids. All activate the same receptors in the brain. Subsequent studies by Fisher found that UV exposure increased endorphin levels in mice, which behaved as follows: Opioid Addiction.
Endorphins are sometimes called “feeling good” hormones because they induce a mild euphoria. Studies show that some people are urged to visit sunbathing and tanning salons that reflect the behavior of opioid addicts. Fisher and his colleagues speculated that people might unknowingly crave endorphin rushes and might look for UVB. But that suggests a major contradiction. “Why do we evolve to behave behaviorally towards the most common carcinogens that exist?” Fisher asked. After all, exposure to sunlight is a major cause of skin cancer, not to mention wrinkles and other skin damage.
Fisher believes that the only explanation for humans and other animals looking for the sun is that exposure to UV light is required to produce vitamin D, which our bodies cannot prescribe on their own. I have. Vitamin D promotes the intake of calcium, which is essential for building bones. As human tribes moved north in prehistoric times, evolutionary changes may have been needed to force them out of the cave and step into the sunshine on terribly cold days. Otherwise, small children may have died of long-term vitamin D deficiency (the cause of rickets), and when people fled their predators, their weak bones shattered, leaving them vulnerable.
According to this theory, Fisher et al. Investigate the sun, which is caused by vitamin D deficiency with the aim of increasing the synthesis of hormones for survival, which makes the body more resistant to the effects of opioids. We hypothesized that it could be sensitized and potentially contribute. For addiction. “Our goal in this study was to understand the relationship between vitamin D signaling in the body and UV and opioid-seeking behavior,” said Lajos V. Kemény, MD, a postdoctoral fellow in dermatology. The doctor says. At MGH.
In Science Advances Thesis, Fisher, Kemény, and interdisciplinary teams from several institutions have addressed this issue from a dual perspective. In one arm of the study, they compared normal laboratory mice with vitamin D-deficient mice (by removing vitamin D from special breeding or diet). “We found that adjusting vitamin D levels changed multiple addictive behaviors for both UV and opioids,” says Kemény. Importantly, when mice were conditioned with moderate doses of morphine, vitamin D-deficient mice continued to look for drugs that were less common in normal mice. When morphine withdrew, mice with low vitamin D levels were much more likely to develop withdrawal symptoms.
The study also found that morphine functions more effectively as an analgesic in mice with vitamin D deficiency. That is, opioids showed exaggerated responses in these mice. After all, consider a surgical patient who is given morphine for pain management after surgery. If the patient is deficient in vitamin D, the euphoric effect of morphine can be exaggerated, says Fisher, “and that person is likely to be addicted.”
Experimental data suggesting that vitamin D deficiency increases habitual behavior was supported by some accompanying analysis of human health records. For some, patients with moderately low vitamin D levels are 50% more likely to use opioids than others with normal levels, while patients with severe vitamin D deficiency are 90% more likely. Showed that there is. Another analysis found that patients diagnosed with opioid use disorder (OUD) were more likely to be deficient in vitamin D than other patients.
Returning to the lab, Fisher says one of the other important discoveries in the study could have a significant impact. “Correcting vitamin D levels in deficient mice reversed the opioid response and returned to normal,” he says. In humans, vitamin D deficiency is widespread, but Fisher says it is safe and easy to treat with low-cost dietary supplements.More research is needed, but he believes in healing vitamin D deficiency may offer new ways to help reduce the risk of OUD and enhance existing treatments for the disorder. “Our results suggest that there may be opportunities to influence opioid epidemics in the field of public health,” says Fisher.
LV Kemény et al., “Vitamin D deficiency exacerbates UV / endorphin and opioid addiction.” Science Advances (2021). Advances.sciencemag.org/lookup… .1126 / sciadv.abe4577
Massachusetts General Hospital
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