Vitamin D-Based Treatment For MS Shows Promise

shutterstock_87306421Multiple sclerosis is a type of disease that can have a substantial effect to a person’s life. This neurodegenerative disease is difficult to diagnose early. Doctors can only diagnose the disease once the neurological signs are already present, from blurry vision, numb foot or unsteady legs. By that time, the disease may already be on its devastating course.

One of the continuing problems with MS is that medical experts still have a lot to learn about the disease. Currently, there is no treatment still available that can cure people of the disease. Faced with this situation, researchers are trying to find novel options to try and halt the debilitating progress of the disease. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison may have found one in a vitamin D-based treatment.

A team of researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has discovered a vitamin D-based treatment that shows promise in halting or even reversing the course of MS. In a mouse model of MS, the researchers gave the mice a single dose of calcitriol, the active hormone form of vitamin D. The mice were then given ongoing vitamin D supplements through their diet.

According to Colleen Hayes, biochemistry professor and lead author of the study, “All of the animals just got better and better, and the longer we watched them, the more neurological function they regained.”

While most experts still do not understand the cause of MS, some studies have linked low levels of vitamin D to increased risk of the disease. In the current study, Hayes and her colleagues compared various vitamin D-based treatments to standard MS drugs. In each case, the team found out that the vitamin D treatment were always more effective. Mice that were given such treatments show fewer physical symptoms and cellular signs of the disease.

Hayes’ team initially compared the effectiveness of a single dose of calcitriol to a comparable dose of an MS drug called glucocorticoid. The former came out better, inducing a nine-day remission in an average of 92 percent of mice. The MS drug only offered a six-day remission to 58 percent of the mice it treated.

After that, Hayes’ team then tried to administer a weekly dose of calcitriol in mice. They found out that the weekly dose reversed the disease and sustained an indefinite period of remission in mice. But since, high doses of calcitriol can raise blood calcium levels in people, Hayes tried to study a third regimen- a dose of calcitriol followed by ongoing vitamin D supplements. All of the mice given the third regimen responded to the treatment.

Hayes believe that the calcitriol may cause the autoimmune cells attacking the myelin coating in nerve cells to die. The vitamin D supplements prevent new autoimmune cells from replacing the ones that die off. While this might be showing promise as a potential treatment for MS, Hayes is quick to point out that it currently only work on a mouse model of the disease. Further testing might be necessary which may include conducting human clinical trials in the future. The findings of the study are published online in the August issue of Journal of Neuroimmunology.

Source: Science Daily


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