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Molecular link between vitamin D deficiency and MS

The vitamin may interact with a gene associated with multiple sclerosis

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8:02pm, February 5, 2009

Scientists are shining some sunlight on the molecular connection between vitamin D deficiency and multiple sclerosis.

A form of vitamin D triggers activity of an immune system gene linked to the disease, researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of British Columbia report in a study published online February 6 in PLoS Genetics.

Epidemiology reports have previously found that the farther people live from the equator, the more likely they are to develop multiple sclerosis. MS is an auto-immune disease in which the body attacks the myelin sheath that protects nerve cells. More than 2.5 million people worldwide have the disease.

People who have multiple sclerosis often have low levels of the vitamin in their blood. But scientists did not know how vitamin D works in the immune system, or how deficiency of the vitamin is connected to the disease. The new study is the first to establish a genetic link between MS and vitamin D.

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