Researchers investigating the role of nutrients in helping the immune system fight against major infections have found that vitamin A may play an important role combating drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB).
A team of researchers at University of California, Los Angeles described for the first time the mechanism by which vitamin A and a specific gene assist the immune system by reducing the level of cholesterol in cells infected with TB.
This is important because cholesterol can be used by TB bacteria for nutrition and other needs, the researchers said.
"If we can reduce the amount of cholesterol in a cell infected with tuberculosis, we may be able to aid the immune system in better responding to the infection," senior author Philip Liu, said.
"Understanding how nutrients like vitamin A are utilised by our immune system to fight infections may provide new treatment approaches," the researcher added.
Although vitamin A circulates in the body in an inactive form known as retinol, it's the active form of the nutrient- all-trans reinoic acid- that is responsible for activating the immune system.
The study was published in the Journal of Immunology.