Less vitamin D and melatonin bad for multiple sclerosis | Science News

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Less vitamin D and melatonin bad for multiple sclerosis

Studies untangle dark and light sides of immune disorder

By
12:12pm, September 10, 2015
day-night melanin

NIGHT AND DAY  Compounds the body makes in response to darkness and light play roles in the immune disorder multiple sclerosis, new studies show.

Darkness and light may help prevent multiple sclerosis or fend off its symptoms.

People who genetically produce less vitamin D, a compound normally boosted by sun exposure, have a greater risk of multiple sclerosis, researchers find. But the hormone melatonin, which the body produces in response to darkness, may reduce flare-ups for people who have the disease, another team of scientists reports.

The studies may help researchers better understand and treat multiple sclerosis, a disease of the nervous system. It causes symptoms including muscle weakness, pain and vision loss in over 2 million people worldwide.   

Previous studies linked lower vitamin D levels to higher multiple sclerosis risk, but it was unclear whether this relationship was a coincidence. In work appearing August 25 in PLOS Medicine, scientists examined genetic data from thousands of Europeans and found that three genetic changes known to reduce vitamin D levels

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