Highline Medical Center doctor discovers new treatment involving high doses of Vitamin D
Dr. Barry Bockow, a rheumatologist at Highline Medical Center for 33 years and a clinical associate professor at the University of Washington, recently discovered a new innovative and safe treatment for a very serious, potentially fatal, hematologic disorder.
The disorder is called immune thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP), and is often an immune complication of systemic lupus erythematosus. The body attacks its own platelets and the platelet count diminishes to life threateningly low levels. Untreated, the patients will bleed internally. The current treatment for this serious malady is high-dose corticosteroids, and if that fails various chemotherapeutic agents are tried. These two treatments have multiple potential serious side effects including secondary malignancies, opportunistic infectious, etc.
Dr. Bockow, having many years of experience using hydroxychloroquine, a drug that is used to treat systemic lupus, treated two patients with hydroxychloroquine but added high-dose vitamin D to the regimen.
Vitamin D has been known to be an immunomodulatory agent. It is known, for example, that patients with MS are vitamin D deficient. Both patients responded beautifully to this combination, and their platelet counts were restored to normal.
Although both patients were initially on prednisone, prednisone was actually discontinued in one patient and the dose was reduced to subclinical levels in the other patient. It is interesting to note that in one patient, after his vitamin D level returned to normal his vitamin D replacement was discontinued. Shortly thereafter his platelet count plummeted; however, with reinstitution of vitamin D his level returned to normal again.
A paper was published in the Journal of Medical Case Reports, April 2013 issue. Obviously, if this does work for other patients it would save them from the potential serious side effects associated with the current standard treatment.
Dr. Bockow welcomes other sites to confirm his findings before this methodology is uniformly recommended.
Below is the official Citation on Pub MED:
Bockow B, Bockow Kaplan T. Refractory immune thrombocytopenia successfully treated with high-dose vitamin D supplementation and hydroxychloroquine: two case reports.
J Med Case Rep. 2013 Apr 4;7(1):91.