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Sunlight combats multiple sclerosis

New research published in the European Journal of Immunology reveals that vitamin D3 reduces the frequency of attacks and slows progression of multiple sclerosis (MS). The vitamin D3 is generated in human body under sun exposure. The research explains negative correlation between sunlight level and MS incidence.

Multiple sclerosis is currently incurable disease accompanied by attacks of the patients’ immune system on the nerve cells. The mechanism of this autoimmune process still remains unknown. The existing first-line treatments are unable to slow the MS progression. They just decrease the frequency of autoimmune attacks. The second-line treatments do slow the disease progression, but have risky side effects. Besides, these treatments are expensive.

The new research demonstrates that the patients with the highest levels of vitamin D3 have the fewest attacks and slowest MS progression. It means that this vitamin (obtained mainly from sunlight) prevents multiple sclerosis and eases its symptoms. The research assumes that vitamin D3 might be an effective, safe and cheap treatment for MS.

The scientists initially suggested that vitamin D3 may suppress the autoimmune attacks, because there is a negative correlation between sunlight and MS. Besides, T lymphocytes have receptors for the vitamin D3. The researchers assumed that due to these receptors vitamin D3 may restrain the T lymphocytes, which are responsible for autoimmune process.

The scientists created the experimental MS model with T lymphocytes either containing vitamin D3 receptors or not. The positive effects of vitamin were found only in cases of present receptors. The researchers suggest that vitamin D3 eliminates pathogenic T cells. Vitamin’s influence on other immune cells is still unclear. But this influence wouldn’t be enough for preventing autoimmune reactions if vitamin D3 could not suppress pathogenic T lymphocytes.

The research explains the negative correlation between sun exposure and multiple sclerosis development. It demonstrates how sunlight and vitamin D3 interact with cells on molecular level. This and other studies suppose creating of new MS therapies based on vitamin D3.