High Vitamin D Levels Associated with Low MS Disease Activity

OCTOBER 21, 2013
Jackie Syrop
Higher levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D are correlated with less multiple sclerosis (MS) disease activity and progression, according to a study presented at the European Committee for Treatment and Research in Multiple Sclerosis (ECTRIMS) 2013 meeting in Copenhagen.
 
Alberto Ascherio, MD, MPH, a professor of medicine at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, presented data on 251 patients with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels below 50 nanomoles per liter and 213 MS patients who had a higher level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. Ascherio used the records of participants in the BENEFIT study, since the researchers from that trial collected data on baseline 25-hydroxyvitamin D for one year.
 
Patients were an average of 31 years of age and more than 70 percent of the study population was female. At baseline, patients with low 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels had a median of 20 T2 lesions, compared to the median of 15 lesions found in those who had higher levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D.
 
According to Ascherio, every 50 nmol/L increment from the average serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels seen at baseline translated into a 57 percent lower rate of new and active MS-defining lesions (P = 0.0009). He also found that higher baseline differences in 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels were associated with:
 
  • A 57 percent lower MS relapse rate
  • A 25 percent lesser increase in T2 lesion volume 
  • A 0.41 percent lower yearly loss in brain volume from 12 to 60 months
  • Fewer active lesions on MRIA lower increase in T2 lesion volume
  • Less brain loss
  • Decreased disability as demonstrated by a -0.17-point reduction in the Expanded Disability Status Scale score during the subsequent four years.
Ascherio said he was unable to determine if the lower levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were caused by the patients’ lifestyles or the disease itself, which can influence lifestyle choice. Nevertheless, he concluded that “higher serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels early in the course of MS robustly predicted a lower degree of MS activity, MRI lesion load, brain atrophy, and clinical progression over five years.”
 
The study was sponsored by Bayer HealthCare.

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