Vitamin D status appears to be associated with reduced disease activity in patients with multiple sclerosis and a slower rate of disease progression, according to a study published online first in JAMA Neurology by Alberto Ascherio, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA, and colleagues.
Multiple sclerosis is a common cause of neurological disability and vitamin D status may be related to the disease process, according to the study background.
Researchers examined whether blood concentration of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25[OH]D), a marker of vitamin D status, was associated with multiple sclerosis disease activity and progression in patients with a first episode suggestive of multiple sclerosis.
Blood 25[OH]D levels were measured as part of a randomised trial originally designed to study patients given interferon beta-1b treatment. A total of 465 patients (of the 468 enrolled) had at least one 25[OH]D measurement. Patients were followed for up to five years with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
Increases of 50-nmol/L in average blood 25[OH]D levels within the first 12 months appeared to be associated with a 57% lower risk of new active brain lesions, 57% lower risk of relapse, 25% lower yearly increase in T2 lesion volume and 0.41% lower yearly loss in brain volume from months 12 to 60.
“Among patients with multiple sclerosis mainly treated with interferon beta-1b, low 25[OH]D levels early in the disease course are a strong risk factor for long-term multiple sclerosis activity and progression,” the study concludes.