High daily doses of vitamin D helped lower immune responses associated with multiple sclerosis (MS) symptoms, according to a study from Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center at the university’s School of Medicine. Forty patients with MS supplemented for six months with either 10,400 Units or 800 Units daily of vitamin D. Blood tests at the beginning and again at three and six months measured vitamin D levels and the response in the immune system’s T cells, which play an important role in MS. Results showed that the patients taking the high dose of vitamin D had a significant reduction in the percentage of inflammatory T cells related to MS severity. When the increase in blood vitamin D levels was greater than 18ng/ml over starting levels, then for every additional 5ng/ml increase in vitamin D, there was a 1% decrease in the percentage of T cells in the blood. Patients taking the low dose of vitamin D showed no changes in T cells. Further studies will show whether this decrease in T cell activity results in a reduced severity of disease symptoms.
In Perspective: Previous studies show that low vitamin D blood levels are associated with an increased risk of developing MS. In addition, people with MS who also have low vitamin D levels are more likely to have a greater disability and more disease activity.
Sotirchos E, Bhargava P, Eckstein C, et al: Safety and immunologic effects of high- vs low-dose cholecalciferol in multiple sclerosis. Neurology 2015; December 30th.