Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients are at increased risk for thrombosis (formation of blood clots) and vitamin deficiencies, particularly vitamin B6. Studies have shown that low plasma levels of vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) are an independent risk factor for thrombosis, especially deep vein thrombosis. Researchers at the University of Milan recently concluded a study aimed at determining if a vitamin B6 deficiency could help explain the increased risk of thrombosis found in patients with IBD (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis). Their study involved 32 patients with Crohn's disease and 29 with ulcerative colitis. For each patient, 3 sex- and age-matched healthy controls were also evaluated. The researchers found that patients with IBD had significantly lower blood levels of pyridoxal-5'-phosphate (PLP), the main metabolite of vitamin B6, than did control subjects (22.0 pmol/L versus 31.1 pmol/L). Low levels of PLP were especially pronounced in patients with active disease (26.9% versus 2.9% in inactive disease). The researchers also discovered a significant correlation between low PLP levels and high levels of the inflammation marker, C-reactive protein. They conclude that low PLP levels in IBD patients are a consequence rather than a cause of active disease. Combining this finding with the fact that oral vitamin B6 reduces the incidence of thrombosis (atherothrombotic events) would lead to the conclusion that supplementing IBD patients with vitamin B6 (especially during the active phase) may help reduce their risk of thrombosis.
Saibeni, Simone, et al. Low vitamin B6 plasma levels, a risk factor for thrombosis, in inflammatory bowel disease: role of inflammation and correlation with acute phase reactants. American Journal of Gastroenterology, Vol. 98, January 2003, pp. 112-17