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Low vitamin D levels associated with greater risk of relapse in childhood-onset multiple sclerosis
Date:1/21/2010

Low vitamin D blood levels are associated with a significantly higher risk of relapse attacks in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) who develop the disease during childhood, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of California, San Francisco.

"We have known for some time that vitamin D insufficiency is a risk factor for developing MS, but this is the first study to assess whether vitamin D levels influence the disease course of those who already have MS," said lead author Ellen Mowry, MD, MCR, a clinical instructor of neurology at the UCSF Multiple Sclerosis Center.

The study, which is now published online by the Annals of Neurology and is available at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/123246501/abstract, demonstrates that an increase in vitamin D levels by 10 nanograms per milliliter of blood (ng/mL) corresponds with a 34 percent decrease in the rate of subsequent relapses.

In other words, raising the vitamin D level of a person with MS by 15 ng/mL, which requires about 2,000 international units of vitamin D supplementation a day, could theoretically cut a patient's relapse rate in half, explained Mowry.

"Although we do not yet know if vitamin D supplementation will be beneficial for MS patients, the fact that there is a clear association between vitamin D levels and relapse rate provides strong rationale for conducting a clinical trial to measure the potential impact of supplementation," she said.

"This is an exciting finding because it indicates that it is very possible for vitamin D supplementation to have a profound impact on the course of this disease," said senior author Emmanuelle Waubant, MD, PhD, an associate professor of neurology at UCSF and director of the Regional Pediatric MS Center at UCSF Children's Hospital. Waubant said she expects similar findings in adult patients with MS.


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Contact: Kate Vidinsky
kvidinsky@pubaff.ucsf.edu
415-476-2557
University of California - San Francisco
Source:Eurekalert

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