Vitamin D, the principal regulator of calcium in the body, may prevent the production of malignant cells such as breast and prostate cancer cells and protect against specific autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS) according to an article by Sylvia Christakos, PhD, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School.
In the article, Christakos reports that research shows that the incidence of MS decreases as the amount of vitamin D available to the body increases, either through sunlight exposure or diet. The article notes that MS is “for the most part, unknown in equatorial regions” and that the prevalence of the disease is lower in areas where fish consumption is high. The study is available online in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry.
“Since vitamin D is produced in the skin through solar or UV irradiation and high serum levels have been shown to correlate with a reduced risk of MS, this suggests that vitamin D may regulate the immune response and may promote a host’s reaction to a pathogen,” Christakos said.
Christakos’ report focuses on the immunosuppressive actions of the active form of vitamin D, which may inhibit the induction of MS, and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a sufficient vitamin D level.
“Evidence has shown that the maintenance of an adequate vitamin D level may have a protective effect in individuals predisposed to MS,” Christakos said. “One device of vitamin D action may be to preserve balance in the T-cell reaction and thus avoid autoimmunity.”
Despite the significant evidence of the benefits of vitamin D relative to MS and other autoimmune diseases, Christakos cautions that further studies are needed to determine whether vitamin D alone or combined with other treatments is effective in individuals with active MS.
The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,500 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.
Vitamin D is a principal regulator of calcium homeostasis. However, recent evidence has indicated that vitamin D can have numerous other physiological functions including inhibition of proliferation of a number of malignant cells including breast and prostate cancer cells and protection against certain immune mediated disorders including multiple sclerosis (MS). The geographic incidence of MS indicates an increase in MS with a decrease in sunlight exposure. Since vitamin D is produced in the skin by solar or UV irradiation and high serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) have been reported to correlate with a reduced risk of MS, a protective role of vitamin D is suggested. Mechanisms whereby the active form of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25(OH)(2)D(3)) may act to mediate this protective effect are reviewed. Due to its immunosuppressive actions, it has been suggested that 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) may prevent the induction of MS.
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) Released: Fri 22-Aug-2008
Raghuwanshi A, Joshi SS, Christakos S. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. J Cell Biochem. 2008 Jul 24