Multiple sclerosis breakthrough: Vitamin D directly terminates production of disease-causing protein

Mechanism suggests a potential new path toward pharmaceutical treatment of MS, as well as therapies for other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis.

For years scientists have noted an association between levels of vitamin D in a person’s body and the person’s ability to resist or minimize the effects of multiple sclerosis (MS) but didn’t understood the mechanism involved. Until now.

New breakthrough research by a collaborative team at UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School and Stanford indicates that vitamin D directly terminates the production of a disease-causing protein.

As the investigators outline in their report, published in the September issue of Molecular and Cellular Biology (“1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 ameliorates Th17 autoimmunity via transcriptional modulation of interleukin-17A”):

• During MS (“EAE” in mice), a damaging protein called interleukin-17 (IL-17) is produced by immune cells in the brain.

• The research team found that after vitamin D binds to its receptor, the receptor parks itself on the gene that encodes IL-17.

• By doing so, the vitamin D receptor occupies a site normally reserved for a protein called NFAT, which is required to turn the IL-17 gene on.

• The gene stays off and IL-17 levels plummet.

• At the same time, the vitamin D receptor turns on another gene, whose product generates suppressive T cells that combat the destructive action of their IL-17-producing counterparts.

According to the researchers, led by UMDNJ Prof. Sylvia Christakos, PhD, the mechanism they identified suggests what might be a new path toward pharmaceutical treatment of MS, as well as therapies for other autoimmune diseases that might include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis.

Source: UMDNJ news release, Aug 16, 2011

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4 thoughts on “Multiple sclerosis breakthrough: Vitamin D directly terminates production of disease-causing protein”

  1. IanH says:

    This link is not working:

    (“1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 ameliorates Th17 autoimmunity via transcriptional modulation of interleukin-17A” ):

  2. IanH says:

    Thanks. The link is now working.

  3. Foxley says:

    As the article describes a property of Vitamin D, why would they not recommend research on Vitamin D, and use of Vitamin D, rather than needing to develop a new drug before people can benefit?

  4. nickjones says:

    This seems like it is great news for those with MS and other autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, eczema and psoriasis. It is fantastic that they have found that vitamin D directly terminates the production of a disease-causing protein. If you know someone who has an autoimmune disease such as type 1 diabetes, it is important to know which physicians have expertise in in the recent vitamin D findings. Is there a physician that can help them determine the appropriate treatment or help them figure out how much vitamin D should be in their diet? Thanks for your help!

    Best,
    Nick Jones

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