More evidence for the link between vitamin D and MS
09 December 2011
Researchers have identified a link between a rare gene which causes people to have lower levels of vitamin D and having MS
Both genetic and environmental factors and their interactions are thought to be involved in causing MS. Although there are instances of several family members developing MS, the condition is not hereditary and the majority of people who develop MS have no previous family history of the condition. Evidence has also suggested that reduced sunlight exposure and consequent low vitamin D production is associated with increased risk of developing MS, higher relapse rates and greater disability. Across the population of the UK, vitamin D levels have been found to be especially low, particularly in the winter. The evidence for the genetic and environmental causes of MS is still the focus of much debate and research.
Researchers, lead by a team from Oxford, have been looking for genetic clues to explain the potential cause of MS. Their investigations identified a mutation of a gene, CYP27B1. They then looked at 3,000 families of unaffected parents with a child with MS and found that 35 parents carried this variant gene and had passed it on to their child.
This gene variant is rare and does not account for all cases of MS. But what is interesting is that this gene variant can cause vitamin D deficiency. The results of this study strengthen the case for vitamin D deficiency as one of the potential causes of MS.