ARTICLE ABSTRACTGut barrier dysfunction promotes chronic inflammation, contributing to several gastrointestinal diseases, including colorectal cancer. Preliminary evidence suggests that vitamin D and calcium could prevent colorectal carcinogenesis, in part, by influencing gut barrier function. However, relevant human data are scarce. We tested the effects of supplemental calcium (1,200 mg/day) and/or vitamin D3 (1,000 IU/day) on circulating concentrations of biomarkers of gut permeability (anti-flagellin and anti-lipopolysaccharide IgA and IgG, measured via ELISA) from baseline to 1 and 3 or 5 years postbaseline among 175 patients with colorectal adenoma in a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled clinical trial. We also assessed factors associated with baseline concentrations of these biomarkers. We found no appreciable effects of supplemental vitamin D3 and/or calcium on individual or aggregate biomarkers of gut permeability. At baseline, a combined permeability score (the summed concentrations of all four biomarkers) was 14% lower among women (P = 0.01) and 10% higher among those who consumed >1 serving per day of red or processed meats relative to those who consumed none (Ptrend = 0.03). The permeability score was estimated to be 49% higher among participants with a body mass index (BMI) > 35 kg/m2 relative to those with a BMI < 22.5 kg/m2 (Ptrend = 0.17). Our results suggest that daily supplemental vitamin D3 and/or calcium may not modify circulating concentrations of gut permeability biomarkers within 1 or 3–5 years, but support continued investigation of modifiable factors, such as diet and excess adiposity, that could affect gut permeability.
Calcium and vitamin D may be involved in regulating and maintaining the integrity of the intestinal mucosal barrier, the dysfunction of which results in exposure of the host to luminal bacteria, endotoxins, and antigens leading to potentially cancer-promoting endotoxemia and chronic colon inflammation. While our results suggest that daily supplementation with these chemopreventive agents does not modify circulating concentrations of gut permeability biomarkers, they support continued investigation of other potential modifiable factors, such as diet and excess adiposity, that could alter gut barrier function, to inform the development of treatable biomarkers of risk for colorectal neoplasms and effective colon cancer preventive strategies.