Reducing Inflammatory Markers in MS Patients With High-Dose Vitamin D
By James P. Meschino, DC, MS
Dynamic Chiropractic - April 1, 2016
Numerous studies suggest low levels of vitamin D in the blood are strongly linked to increased risk of developing multiple sclerosis (MS).
The ground-breaking study published in the January 2016 issue of Neurology, showed that MS patients administered high-dose vitamin D (10,400 IU per day), supplemented over a six month period, had a reduction in the percentage of inflammatory T cells related to MS severity. Patients in the control group, who were given 800 IU per day of vitamin D, did not show a reduction in these MS inflammatory markers.
Compelling evidence has linked low vitamin D levels with increased risk for MS, and progression of MS in patients suffering from the disease. Our understanding of the importance of vitamin D in immune system modulation continues to unfold with each passing year.
Vitamin D can be bought over the counter
The Body makes Vitamin D in direct sunlight
High dose Vitamin D could treat Multiple Sclerosis, Scientists finds
Low levels of vitamin D are known to be associated with an increased risk of developing MS but it is the first study to show that supplements can help the condition.
Taking large doses of the recommended daily dose of vitamin D could be a cheap and simple treatment for multiple sclerosis, say scientists. Low levels of vitamin D in the blood are known to be associated with an increased risk of developing MS. And patients with low levels of the vitamin are also likely to suffer from disability, but until now scientists have now known if supplements could help the condition.
Now research by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore has shown that upping levels of the sunshine vitamin dampens down the immune system, stopping it attacking nerve fibres. Around 100,000 people in the UK are battling the disease, so the new study suggests that upping their intake of vitamin D could have a major impact. The disease destroys the fatty myelin sheath that insulates nerve fibres and assists the transmission of electrical signals. It can cause symptoms ranging from mild tingling or numbness to full-blown paralysis.
"These results are exciting, as vitamin D has the potential to be an inexpensive, safe and convenient treatment for people with MS," said lead scientist Dr Peter Calabresi, from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. "More research is needed to confirm these findings with larger groups of people and to help us understand the mechanisms for these effects, but the results are promising."
Vitamin D is known to be important for bone health and it can nautrally be obtained by eating cheese, eggs and fish oil, as well as direct exposure to sunlight. For the new study, 40 patients with relapsing-remitting MS - a form of the disorder characterised by active and passive periods - received either 10,400 or 800 international units (IU) of vitamin D3 supplements every day for six months. The first dose was significantly higher than the recommended daily allowance for vitamin D of 600 IU. Patients taking the high dose experienced a reduction in the percentage of specific immune system T-cells related to MS activity.
Above a certain threshold, every five nanograms per millilitre increase in vitamin D blood levels led to a 1 per cent reduction of the T-cells, the researchers reported in the journal Neurology. It suggests that the maxim dose could reduce dangerous immune cells by eight per cent. No such change was seen in those patients taking the lower dose supplements. Side effects from the vitamin supplements were minor and did not differ between patients taking the higher and lower doses. One person in each group had a relapse of disease activity, but while the study tested the effect of vitamin D supplements on the immune system it did not look closely at the clinical impact of the treatment. This will have to be the subject of future research.
The research was published in the journal Neurology. Original article can be found here.
Vitamin D could Repair Nerve Damage in Multiple Sclerosis
A recent study suggests a protein activated by vitamin D could be involved in repairing damage to myelin in people with multiple sclerosis (MS), according to new research from the University of Cambridge. The study, published today in the Journal of Cell Biology, offers significant evidence that vitamin D could be a possible treatment for MS in the future.
"This work provides significant evidence that vitamin D is involvedin the regeneration of myelin once the disease has started."
Researchers, from the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair, identified that the 'vitamin D receptor' protein pairs with an existing protein, called the RXR gamma receptor, already known to be involved in the repair of myelin, the protective sheath surrounding nerve fibres.
By adding vitamin D to brain stem cells where the proteins were present, they found the production rate of oligodendrocytes (myelin making cells) increased by 80%. When they blocked the vitamin D receptor to stop it from working, the RXR gamma protein alone was unable to stimulate the production of oligodendrocytes.