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Vitamin D may reduce risk of new brain lesions in MS patients

September 9, 2013

A new US study shows that higher blood vitamin D concentrations may decrease the risk of developing new lesions in the brains of patients with relapsing multiple sclerosis.

In the observational study, the blood vitamin D concentrations, brain lesions and number of relapses of 469 multiple sclerosis (MS) patients taking vitamin D supplements were measured (1). The study results showed that each 10ng/ml increase in 25­hydroxyvitamin D concentration was associated with a 15% lower risk of a new brain lesion and lower levels of disability. In addition, higher vitamin D levels were associated with lower, but not statistically significant, relapse risk.

The researchers commented that these findings seem to provide further support for the role of vitamin D in inflammatory activity related to MS. However, the results did not provide evidence that vitamin D supple-mentation is beneficial to individuals with MS, which needs to be investigated in randomized controlled trials.

MS is an autoimmune disorder occurring in those who possess or are exposed to a combination of genetic and environmental risk factors. A few environmental MS risk factors have been identified: cigarette smoking, infection with Epstein­Barr virus, and lower vitamin D levels. Lower vitamin D levels have recently been asso-ciated with increased relapse risk among patients with relapsing/remitting MS or those who have suffered a clinically isolated syndrome (2,3).

References

  1. Mowry, E. M. et al. Vitamin D status predicts new brain magnetic resonance imaging activity in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2012; 72(2):234–240.

  2. Mowry, E. M. et al. Vitamin D status is associated with relapse rate in pediatric-onset multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2010; 67:618–624.

  3. Simpson, S. et al. Higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D is associated with lower relapse risk in multiple sclerosis. Ann Neurol. 2010; 68:193–203.