The results of a recent study suggest that high levels of vitamin D may slow disease progression and decrease disease activity in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients.
The researchers of the study, published online on January 20, 2014, in JAMA Neurology, analyzed data from the Betaferon/Betaseron in Newly Emerging Multiple Sclerosis for Initial Treatment study to determine whether vitamin D levels are associated with disease activity in patients with a first event suggestive of MS. Serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were measured at baseline and at 6, 12, and 24 months. Patients were followed for 5 years with clinical exams and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain.
The results indicate that higher vitamin D levels were associated with reduced disease activity and a slower rate of disease progression. During the first year of follow-up, a 50-nmol/L increase in vitamin D serum levels was associated with a 57% decreased risk for new lesions, a 57% reduced risk of relapse, and a 25% lower yearly increase in T2 lesion volume. After 5 years, patients who had vitamin D levels of 50 nmol/L or greater after 1 year also had lower levels of disability compared with patients with lower vitamin D levels.
The authors of the study conclude that low vitamin D levels during the early stages of MS are a “strong risk factor for long-term MS activity and progression.”