August 19, 2009

Part of immune system conserved 60M years

U.S. scientists say the ability of vitamin D to regulate anti-bactericidal proteins has been conserved in primates for nearly 60 million years of evolution.

Oregon State University researchers said that part of the immune system is shared only by primates, including humans -- but no other known animal species. The fact that the vitamin-D mediated immune response has been retained through millions of years of evolutionary selection -- and is still found in species ranging from squirrel monkeys to baboons and humans -- suggests it must be critical to their survival, the researchers said.

The existence and importance of this part of our immune response makes it clear that humans and other primates need to maintain sufficient levels of vitamin D, said Associate Professor Adrian Gombart, a principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University.

The study is reported in the journal BMC Genomics.