Last week, Dr Emma Hurst, lead postdoctoral scientist in the VitDAL visited Glasgow to present at the 5th Scottish Biomedical Postdoctoral Researcher Conference (SBPRC). SBPRC is a unique networking platform for postdocs belonging to diverse areas of biomedical sciences from institutions across Scotland, and aims to provide focused presentations to meet the needs of postdoctoral researchers and awareness of the scope of research taking place to promote new collaborations. Dr Hurst play a lead role within VitDAL which includes LC-MS assay development and sample analysis, presented a talk entitled “The VitDAL journey: from one armadillo to hundreds of cows and (almost!) everything in between”. Dr Hurst discussed the development and use of the recently DEQAS accredited 25-hydroxyvitamin-D assay, highlighting the vastly diverse applications, including investigating hypervitaminosis D in an armadillo to hypovitaminosis D in lambs from Scottish Hill Farms.
Professor Mellanby visited Phoenix this week to present some of the latest research from the VitDAL at the ACVIM Forum. He presented some recent data from VitDAL alongside Dr Jaffey from Midwestern University in a talk entitled ‘Vitamin D : a new role in infectious disease’. They reviewed data demonstrating that vitamin D homeostasis is altered in companion animals with infectious diseases and then discussed data from VitDAL which showed how vitamin D metabolites can influence the immune response. They also discussed how inflammation can also influence vitamin D status, revealing the bi-directional relationship between vitamin D status and immune response.
We are delighted to announce that the VitDAL has been awarded DEQAS accreditation this week. This demonstrates that the lab offers a 25(OH)D assay which has a high degree of accuracy and performs within the Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) performance targets. The DEQAS send VitDAL samples every 3 months in which we measure 25(OH)D concentrations blindly before submitting the results to the scheme. At the end of each annual cycle only labs which have performed within tightly controlled targets are awarded accreditation. The photo shows the team proudly exhibiting their certificate of proficiency from the DEQAS Advisory Panel (L-R Dr Natalie Homer, Mass Spectrometry Core Manager; Dr Emma Hurst, VitDAL postdoctoral scientist; Dr Scott Denham, Deputy Director of Mass Spectrometry facility and Professor Richard Mellanby).
VitDAL published a case report this week which describes how the lab helped diagnose a case of profound hypovitaminosis D in Cocker Spaniel who presented to the Hospital for Small Animals with a history of a seizure. After further tests, we diagnosed a severe intestinal disorder called a protein losing enteropathy (PLE) following endoscopic examination and biopsy of his intestines. As shown in the image, the architecture of the small intestine was highly abnormal and the biospies revealed a marked inflammatory infiltrate which had significantly disrupted the structure of the intestines. The PLE led to a failure to absorb enough vitamin D to maintain plasma calcium concentration within the normal range which eventually dropped to a sufficiently low level to cause a seizure. Following the rapid identification of the vitamin D deplete state by VitDAL, we were able to successfully treat the … Read More »
VitDAL have published their latest paper today on vitamin D status in dogs with babaesia in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. Babesiosis is a very important disease in dogs in South Africa and many other countries and is an important cause of anaemia. We have shown that vitamin D status is lower in dogs with babesia than healthy dogs and that there was a negative relationship between disease severity and 25(OH)D concentrations. We hope these results will stimulate further work into vitamin D biology and babesiosis which also acts as a valuable large animal model of human malaria infections.
The paper can be accessed at this link
VitDAL has published its latest research on the immune-modulating properties of vitamin D. We have explored the effects of the active vitamin D metabolite 1,25(OH)2D3 on bone marrow derived dendritic cells (BMDC) and discovered that CD31 was one of a small number of genes which were over-expressed on both activated and non-activated 1,25(OH)2D3 conditioned BMDC. Using lentivirus transfection systems we over- and under-expressed CD31 on BMDC revealing that CD31 acted as a brake on T cell activation. We showed that the expression of CD31 prevented cells from establishing long lasting interactions with BMDC thereby limiting potential for T cell activation.
The full paper can be accessed via this link
The VitDAL published their latest study on vitamin D and health outcomes this week. The work was a collaborative study between R(D)SVS, Roslin Institute and SRUC and explored the relationship between serum 25(OH)D concentrations in late autumn and subsequent breeding outcomes the following year in three flocks of sheep. The sheep were not receiving any supplementary food at the time of sampling which makes this flock a very informative cohort in which to explore the relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes. An important finding in this study was that the white faced Lleyn sheep had higher 25(OH)D3 concentrations than the darker coated Scottish Blackface sheep yet concentrations of 25(OH)D2, which is not produced in the skin, were not different between the 2 breeds. Consistent with our earlier work in Soay sheep, this study shows the impact coat colour has on 25(OH)D3 status in animals. In addition, we found that … Read More »
Professor Mellanby was an invited speaker at the Mellanby Centre, University of Sheffield last week. The Mellanby centre was named in honour of Sir Edward Mellanby who was a leading researcher in vitamin D and bone biology based in Sheffield. The annual symposium provided an excellent forum for dissemination of recent research findings and celebrate recent accomplishment by the Centre. Professor Mellanby gave an overview of Sir Edward’s life and achievements and described how his research transformed public health 100 years ago. The picture shows Prof Mellanby alongside Prof Russell, Prof Eastwell and Prof Coleman following the lifetime membership of the Mellanby Centre ceremony.
Professor Richard Mellanby from VitDAL had the great honour of presenting his inaugural lecture recently at the University of Edinburgh Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies. This was a wonderful opportunity to present the story of the lab’s work to date ranging from the first clinical cases of hypervitaminosis D that stimulated research in this area through to more recent studies on vitamin D status and health outcomes in large population studies and evaluations of immuno-modulatory properties of vitamin D metabolites. A recording of the talk can be accessed via this link
Professor Richard Mellanby from the VitDAL gave a presentation on the health benefits of vitamin D at the Biggar Science Festival this week. The Biggar Science Festival is a fantastic 10 day celebration of science past, present and future and offers a great range of science engagement activities for all ages – further details can be found at their website. Richard discussed the history of vitamin D and reviewed some recent studies which have shown how vitamin D can influence the immune system. The relaxed venue was a perfect place to then engage in a wide ranging discussion about our current understanding of the importance of vitamin D in health and disease.
Professor Richard Mellanby from the VitDAL was presenting research from the lab to veterinarians at the Scottish Vet Fair this weekend. The event was held at the picturesque Mar Lodge, Braemar in Royal Deeside. The event was a great opportunity to meet some of the veterinarians who use the lab’s services as well as updating local practitioners about our recent work. The lectures were held in the remarkable Stag Ballroom which was spectacularly decorated with over 2000 stag skulls and antlers.
Prof Richard Mellanby from VitDAL was in Bologna this week at the European Society for Veterinary Endocrinology summer school. He presented at update on the lab’s recent research activities ranging from identification of novel vitamin D disorders in patients through to mechanistic mouse studies. The summer school is an excellent opportunity for veterinary endocrinologists to share recent research findings and is an important event which helps to facilitate wider collaboration within the veterinary endocrine field.
Professor Richard Mellanby was invited to present the recent research findings from the VitDAL at the ACVIM conference this week which is one of the largest veterinary conferences in the world. Prof Mellanby presented an overview of recent work which ranged from case studies describing how measuring vitamin D metabolites guided management of individual cases through to our murine experimental work. It also provided an opportunity for VitDAL to highlight our expanding capacity to measure vitamin D metabolites in samples from veterinary patients.
Professor Richard Mellanby from VitDAL was invited to deliver two oral presentations at the 21st Workshop on Vitamin D which was held in Barcelona this week. He presented some recent work from the VitDAL including our studies on how vitamin D modulates the function and phenotype of dendritic cells together with some of our recent analysis on the relationship between vitamin D status and ecological fitness in wild Soay sheep. As usual, the annual international conference brought together the leading researchers in the field of vitamin D biology and provided an excellent opportunity to hear about recent advances in the area.
The VitDAL have published their latest paper this week describing vitamin D receptor expression in dogs. Using immunohistochemistry we demonstrated that vitamin D receptor expression was highest in the kidney, duodenum, skin, ileum and spleen. The cells stained brown in the histology image on the left shows vitamin D receptor expression in the duodenum, the tissue which most intensely expressed vitamin D receptors. We also explored how vitamin D receptor expression varied in the presence of inflammation by comparing vitamin D receptor expression in dogs with inflammatory bowel disease and healthy controls. We discovered that vitamin D receptor expression was unchanged in the face of inflammation, a finding which is encouraging us to explore whether vitamin D may be used as an immuno-modulatory therapy in dogs with intestinal inflammation.
The VitDAL lab, in collaboration with colleagues at the Moredun Research Institute, has published a paper this week describing the effects of the active vitamin D metabolite 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D on bovine dendritic cells. We showed that dendritic cells generated in the presence 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin have a profoundly different phenotype than wildtype controls. The 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D conditioned dendritic cells also produced different amounts of cytokines and were less effective at activating T cells. Our findings highlight the need to understand more about how vitamin D status influences the development of an immune response in cattle.
The paper is available as open access publication at the following link
Professor Richard Mellanby and Dr Iris Mair from VitDAL delivered a lecture this week in the ‘Let’s talk about health’ public lecture series held at the University of Edinburgh. They were able to discuss how their clinical work in veterinary patients stimulate the lab’s long term interest in understanding more about how vitamin D can modulate the immune response. It was a fantastic opportunity to discuss our recent studies with the public and receive feedback from a diverse audience.
The lecture can be viewed in full at the following link
The VitDAL presented their work at the Roslin Open Day last week. VtDAL postdoc Dr Emma Hurst developed a novel public engagement activity which introduced the concept and principles of mass spectrometry to primary school children. The initiative was a great success and was clearly enjoyed by several hundred children throughout the day.
Professor Richard Mellanby was presenting recent data from the VitDAL at the China-UK Life Science and Medicine Summit which was held last week in Beijing. The meeting was organised by the Wellcome Trust and senior scientific organisations in China including the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and brought together over 100 UK and Chinese scientists working in a diverse range of scientific fields. The meeting was a great success and provided an excellent forum in which to discuss future collaborations during the conference and social events which included a trip to the Great Wall of China.
Many congratulations to Dr Jenny Cartwright who was awarded the European Society of Comparative Gastroenterology Purina GI Health Award for best oral abstract at last week’s European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Congress. Jenny recently completed her MSc in the VitDAL where she established which canine tissues expressed the vitamin D receptor and investigated the relationship between inflammation and vitamin D receptor expression in the gastrointestinal tract. Very well done Jenny on this well deserved award!!
Other studies from the VitDAL were also presented at the European College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Congress including collaborative research with the University of Pretoria. The international collaboration demonstrated that dogs with babesiosis had low concentrations of 25 hydroxyvitamin D.
VitDAL postdoc Dr Iris Mair has just returned from visiting St Kilda where she was working with colleagues from the University of Edinburgh and other academic centres on the long running St Kilda Soay Sheep project. The wild, unmanaged Soay sheep have been closely studied for over 30 years and have provided remarkable insights into evolutionary ecology and genetics for many years. The VitDAL have teamed up with the St Kilda team in recent years and are now using this remarkable population to study the relationship between vitamin D and health outcomes in this wild, unmanaged large animal population. This study system has numerous exciting features relevant to our quest to understand more about vitamin D biology, not least that the sheep are confined to a small space with limited ability to alter their exposure to UV radiation and are … Read More »
Richard Mellanby was presenting data from the VitDAL at the Scottish BSAVA Conference this week. He gave an overview of recent VitDAL studies on vitamin D homeostasis disorders in companion animals before talking about the lab’s ongoing research exploring the immune-modulatory properties of vitamin D. Richard was also able to highlight the progress made in developing vitamin D metabolite assays, including 25 hydroxyvitamin D, which the lab is now routinely measuring in sheep and dog samples using state-of-the-art ultra-high performance liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry technologies.
VitDAL postdoc Dr Iris Mair was presenting the lab’s latest research findings at the World Congress of Inflammation in London this week. Iris was invited to present her abstract as an oral presentation where she discussed some of the lab’s recent findings of how 1,25(OH)2D3 alters negative co-stimulatory molecules on dendritic cells. Iris gave an overview of the approaches she has developed to down regulate and over express molecules on dendritic cells using lentivirus constructs. This has allowed us the lab to undertake precise, mechanistic studies to define how vitamin D metabolites modulate dendritic cell phenotype and function.
The VitDAL published a case report this week on an unusual case of hypophosphataemia in a 7 year od Greyhound which presented with muscle fasciculations. The case was very skilfully managed by a John Stewart in his practice in Cupar with input from the VitDAL team. Severe hypophosphataemia is a very unusual finding and this case highlights how marked muscle damage can be associated with very low phosphate concentrations in dogs. It also showed that the condition can be successfully managed with the patient making a very good recovery.
Link to paper
Many congratulations to VitDAL postdoc Iris Mair for her recent public engagement award at the Centre of Inflammation Research away day. Iris was awarded the trainee prize for public engagement 2015-2017 and is shown in photo receiving prize from Dr Donald Davidson who leads the public engagement programme at the Centre of Inflammation. The award is a great recognition of Iris’ commitment to public engagement and advancing understanding of our work in the wider community. Public engagement activities are an integral part of the VitDAL activities so we were delighted that Iris’ work was recognised by her colleagues. Well done Iris!!
Dr Richard Mellanby was representing the VitDAL at the 9th International Sheep Veterinary Congress (ISVC) which was held this week at Harrogate. He was presenting data from the Soay sheep project which has shown that higher vitamin D status is linked to greater fecundity in this wild, unmanaged population. The data has stimulated a collaborative research programme with commercial sheep farmers as the VitDAL explores whether the vitamin D supplementation can improve productivity in commercial sheep flocks.
This week the VitDAL said goodbye to Nadine Kamenjarin, an MSc student from Johannes-Gutenberg University of Mainz, who spent 3 months in the lab working with Iris on a project which aims to define the functional relevancy of altered cytokine production in vitamin D conditioned dendritic cells. Nadine has done a great job and has advanced an important area of research in the lab including the instigation of a cytokine gene knock down approach which has allowed us to influence cytokine production in dendritic cells. We are very grateful for all her hard work and commitment in recent weeks and are sad to see her leave the lab. We wish her all the very best for the rest of her MSc studies in Germany.
Many congratulations to VitDAL MSc student Jenny Cartwright who won the clinical scholars poster prize at R(D)SVS Research Day. Her work details her MSc studies on vitamin D receptor expression in dogs which explored the relationship between vitamin D receptor expression and inflammation in the duodenum of dogs with a chronic enteropathy. Well done Jenny!!
Research undertaken by the VitDAL was awarded a prestigious poster prize at the Annual Vitamin D workshop held in Orlando. This conference is the largest annual gathering of researchers engaged in vitamin D research. Dr Mellanby presented the VitDAL latest research on the relationship between vitamin D status and reproductive outcomes in Soay sheep from St Kilda island where we found a consistent, positive relationship between 25(OH)D plasma concentrations and fecundity in several consecutive years of study. Dr Mellanby also presented data on the stability of vitamin D status in the Soay sheep population. The St Kilda Soay sheep project, led by our collaborators at the Institute of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Edinburgh, has been intensively studied for over 30 years. This population of sheep is completely unmanaged and is geographical constrained so is an excellent study population in which to explore the … Read More »
Dr Richard Mellanby was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons for meritorious contributions to knowledge at the inaugural FRCVS day at the Royal Institution in London. Richard’s fellowship award was in large part due to his research on the biology of vitamin D in veterinary patients.
The VitDAL lab is actively researching how vitamin D metabolites influence the immune response. In order to allow us to examine in great detail how vitamin D modulates the immune system, we use murine models in some of our experiments when our other study systems, such as client owned cats and dogs or farm animal populations, do not allow us to address key biological questions. However, when we need to utilise murine models in order to answer important research questions, we are deeply committed to playing an important role in improving the welfare of mice used in laboratory experiments wherever possible. Our latest study describes how our recently described model of bone marrow derived dendritic cells driven autoimmunity is capable of driving an autopathogenic T cell response but does so without the damaging local side effects which can occur when traditional methods are used, such as immunisation … Read More »
Dr Richard Mellanby was awarded the 2016 Petplan Scientific Achievement Award at BSAVA. In the award citation by David Simpson, the chairman of the Petplan Board of Trustees, highlighted that the award was in recognition of Richard’s contribution to veterinary clinical research, notably his work on vitamin D biology in companion animals.
The latest paper from the VitDAL was published today. Dr Mellanby’s essay in Journal of Small Animal Practice discussed the growing evidence that vitamin D can influence the biology of both skeletal and non-skeletal tissues of companion animals. The paper highlights the value of exploring the role of vitamin D in non skeletal health in order to improve the welfare of companion animals but also highlights how advancing understanding of vitamin D biology in animals may also lead to human health benefits.
link to paper
Research undertaken by the VitDAL was awarded a prestigious poster prize at the Annual Vitamin D workshop held in Boston. This conference is the largest annual gathering of researchers engaged in vitamin D research. Dr Mellanby presented the VitDAL initial research on the relationship between vitamin D status and reproductive outcomes in Soay sheep from St Kilda island which have been intensively studied by our collaborators at the Institute of Evolutionary Ecology at the University of Edinburgh, for over 30 years. This population of sheep is completely unmanaged and is geographical constrained so is an excellent study population in which to explore the relationship between vitamin D and a wide range of health outcomes. We discovered that vitamin D status, as assessed by serum 25(OH)D concentrations, was highly predictive of fecundity with sheep having twins have higher 25(OH)D concentrations than sheep with single or no lambs.