Vitamin D’s Influence on MS Target of New Study

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MS research

A team of researchers recently discovered two novel multiple sclerosis (MS)-associated genes that are regulated by vitamin D levels. The study, titled “The multiple sclerosis susceptibility genes TAGAP and IL2RA are regulated by vitamin D in CD4+ T cells,” was published in the advanced online section of Genes and Immunity.

MS is thought to occur as the result of a complex interaction between multiple genes and environmental factors, particularly low vitamin D levels, Epstein-Barr virus infection, and smoking. The majority of the MS-associated gene variants are located within genetic regions with a key role in T-cell differentiation (T cells are key immune system cells). Since lack of vitamin D was previously associated with increased MS disease susceptibility and activity, researchers at the Department of Neurology, Oslo University Hospital in Norway, measured in vitro the response to vitamin D of genes in human T cells — specifically, CD4+ T cells — that had an MS-associated single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) carrying vitamin D response elements in their regulatory regions.

The team discovered that although 80 percent of the MS-associated genes have one or more vitamin D response elements in that region, only two genes, IL2RA and TAGAP (both containing vitamin D response elements), were regulated by vitamin D in CD4+ T cells in vitro. Moreover, the team observed that the alterations in gene expression of both genes correlated with alterations in their coding, effector proteins.

In conclusion, the findings established IL2RA and TAGAP as novel vitamin D target genes. Notably, however, the response to vitamin D was detected in samples from both MS patients and controls, suggesting that the vitamin D responsiveness of these genes is independent on the genotype of MS-associated SNPs.

MS is an autoimmune disease (when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys healthy body tissue by mistake) of the central nervous system characterized by a T-cell attack against myelin, the protective substance that insulates nerve cells, leading to a wide range of neurological symptoms impairing patients’ physical and cognitive capabilities. With a prevalence of 0.5 to 2.0 cases per 1,000 inhabitants (being particularly high in Scandinavian countries), MS affects mostly women and its symptoms arise in young adulthood.

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  1. annette says:

    I was diagnosed at the age of 58. My parents are of Dutch German descent. I am the only one of 4 siblings that have it.i believe vit D is the answer. My doctor won’t let me take more than 5IU daily.i would love to take part in a vit D study.

    • Carole says:

      I have been taking more than 25mcg per day for over 10 years. I try to keep my blood vit D levels above 80mols. I have not had an attack since 2013.
      5iU =.124999997mcg so I am taking way more than your doctor will ‘allow’. Sack him/her…. its your body, your disease, your life!

      • annette says:

        Sorry. My comment said 5 IU. My doctor says to take 5000 IU daily.i was taking 10000 daily and it put me into the toxic level. I feel that vit D is the answer as the lack of was the cause..

  2. Judith Gawlik says:

    Yea for Vitamin D…Been taking 4,000 units daily since last attack (2014). Now,weak legs, balance, vision issues are attacking up(bummer). Feeling like a pin cushion (copaxone) been researching Tecfidera. Have an appt next week w/neuro to consult..alal in all Vitamin D has bee helping me.

    • annette says:

      Please let me know what you decide about tecfidrera. Would like to know more about your ms. I was also diagnosed in 2014 with RRMS..

    • Joyce says:

      Vitamin D3 is a great thing, although I cannot say it has played any part in my being relapse-free for 5 years. As to Tecfidera, I took it for 4 1/2 years, and had to stop last year because my white blood cell count fell to what my doctor called dangerously low levels.

  3. Joyce says:

    I take 5,000 IU D3 every day. I don’t know that it has helped me, but I haven’t had a relapse in five years. As to Tecfidera, I took that for 1 1/2 years, no problems until my last CBC test showed what my doctor called dangerously low white blood cell counts. Now on my third MS drug.

  4. Terry says:

    I’ve been on Tecfidera for 20 months after doing Avonex, Copaxone and Rebif. Love the pills! First 2 weeks a little rocky with gastro issues, but found taking pills with Benadryl and yogurt did the trick. Now don’t need to take with anything but a glass of milk. Everybody is different. Some have flushing. I didn’t. Worth a try.

    • JM says:

      wish I could try it – I’m JC virus+ so I’m at risk for PML. My anxiety can’t handle taking 2 pills everyday knowing I’m putting myself at risk for a deadly brain infection 🙁 Diagnosed 04/2015 and have yet to start on disease-mod drug, I have Copaxone in my fridge right now but can’t bring myself to take it. Really want to do this naturally (Dr. Terry Wahls). My neuro at UCSF wants me to participate in the 2nd round of Phase 1 trials for RHIgM22….

  5. Terry says:

    I also take 4000 units of Vitamin D3. neuro said that was the one I needed vs. reg Vitamin D. D3 is closest to what one finds in salmon and your body gets from sun.

  6. Patient on high vitamin D dose says:

    I take 60,000IU per day and I’ve been following low calcium diet (no diary, nuts). Feel very good, relapse free and don’t have any symptoms of MS.

    • annette says:

      Hi. That’s very interesting. 60000 iu . That’s a lot. I was taking 10000 a day and my doc said to cut back. I honestly believe the answer to MS is vit D. Does your doc or neurologist recommend this.I would like to hear more.

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