Study Shows Link Between MS and Vitamin D

Scientists and researchers have long known that there seems to some link between vitamin d and multiple sclerosis. But this link remained undetermined until a recent study have found the evidence of how the said vitamin may interact with a common genetic variant that may alter a person’s risk of developing MS. The study also suggests that a woman during pregnancy and a child at its early stages may increase their risk of developing multiple sclerosis if they get too little of the sunshine vitamin.

Researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of British Columbia have established a direct link between vitamin D and a gene known as DRB1-1501. Vitamin D seems to activate certain proteins that lock into a segment of DNA that is next to the gene DRB1-1501 that regulates what it does. The said gene has long been known to influence the development of multiple sclerosis in people. Lack of vitamin D seems to affect the regulation of the said gene, causing it not to function properly.

Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disease that causes damage to the myelin sheath that protects the nerve fibers, causing them to short circuit. MS has also been known to be more common in regions with a low annual sunlight levels, one of the evidences of the link between vitamin D and MS. The specific cause of the disease remain unknown.

In a previous study, the team of researchers were able to establish that certain environmental factors can alter the gene region where DRB1-1501 is located. Such changes are known as epigenetic modifications and can be passed on from one generation to another.

Less vitamin D can cause certain modifications on the DRB1-1501 gene that may be passed on by pregnant mothers to their offspring. This effect may not directly have an impact on pregnant mothers. But it may have a considerable effect on their offspring or the succeeding generations.

Although the study doesn’t directly put people at risk with developing multiple sclerosis from too little vitamin D nor consider it as a cure, it may still be wise to take vitamin supplements especially during the winter months.

Source: Public Library of Science. "Genetic Study Shows Direct Link Between Vitamin D And MS Susceptibility ‘Gene’." ScienceDaily 9 February 2009. 10 February 2009 .

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