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Vitamin D: a natural inhibitor of multiple sclerosis *

Inheriting genetic risk factors for multiple sclerosis (MS) is not sufficient to cause this demyelinating disease of the central nervous system; exposure to environmental risk factors is also required. MS may be preventable if these unidentified environmental factors can be avoided. MS prevalence increases with decreasing solar radiation, suggesting that sunlight may be protective in MS. Since the vitamin D endocrine system is exquisitely responsive to sunlight, and MS prevalence is highest where environmental supplies of vitamin D are lowest, we have proposed that the hormone, 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (1,25-(OH)2D3), may protect genetically-susceptible individuals from developing MS.
Evidence consistent with this hypothesis comes not only from geographic studies, but also genetic and biological studies. Over-representation of the vitamin D receptor gene b allele was found in Japanese MS patients, suggesting it may confer MS susceptibility. Fish oil is an excellent vitamin D source, and diets rich in fish may lower MS prevalence or severity. Vitamin D deficiency afflicts most MS patients, as demonstrated by their low bone mass and high fracture rates.
However, the clearest evidence that vitamin D may be a natural inhibitor of MS comes from experiments with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), a model of MS. Treatment of mice with 1,25-(OH)2D3 completely inhibited EAE induction and progression. The hormone stimulated the synthesis of two anti-encephalitogenic cytokines, interleukin 4 and transforming growth factor β-1, and influenced inflammatory cell trafficking or apoptosis. If vitamin D is a natural inhibitor of MS, providing supplemental vitamin D to individuals who are at risk for MS would be advisable.
 
 

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As with any procedure, there could be pain or other substantial risks involved. These concerns should be discussed with your health care provider prior to any treatment so that you have proper informed consent and understand that there are no guarantees to healing.

THE INFORMATION IN THIS WEBSITE IS OFFERED FOR GENERAL EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND DOES NOT IMPLY OR GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE. No Doctor/Patient relationship shall be deemed to have arisen simply by reading the information contained on these pages, and you should consult with your personal physician/care giver regarding your medical treatment before undergoing any sort of treatment or therapy.

Published on 06-09-2008