Vitamin D supplementation may benefit progressive MS

Supplementing with vitamin D reduced signs of inflammation and nerve damage in rats with progressive multiple sclerosis (MS) in a new study.

Vitamin D deficiency has long been linked with an increased risk for developing MS, but studies where people with relapsing remitting MS were given supplementation of the vitamin have produced conflicting results. Some more recent research has suggested supplementing with vitamin D may help with disease progression in people with the progressive form of the disease, but more research is needed.

In this study, when rats who had had progressive MS induced, ones that were treated with vitamin D had less myelin loss in the cortex of their brains and less activation of microglia, the brain’s immune cells, than rats that didn’t have vitamin D supplemented.

Vitamin D was also linked with reduced cell death and improved preservation of cortical nerve cells.

The rats with progressive MS had elevated levels of neurofilament light chain (NFL), which is a marker for nerve cell damage, over the control rats. But the researchers found the animals given vitamin D had significantly lower NFL levels than those with MS that didn’t get the supplements. This indicates vitamin D limited nerve damage, and markers were also seen which indicated remyelination had also increased.

“[Vitamin D] seems to have potential as a supplement in progressive MS, which is why much more research on [vitamin D] in progressive MS and associated animal models is required,” the researchers said.