We reported recently that researchers at the University of Utah had published a study showing that vitamin D3 has the effect of stabilising the vascular endothelium (lining of blood vessels) and preventing leakage from them, a process which is believed by many, including Professor Roy Swank, to be greatly involved in the causation and progression of MS.
This means vitamin D could treat multiple sclerosis. And now, the University of Cambridge has also made a connection between MS and Vitamin D. The researchers there have identified that a protein activated by Vitamin D could actually have a role in repairing damaged myelin in people with MS, indicating that it could one day be considered as a possible treatment for the condition.
In short, the scientists looked at the pairing of a vitamin D receptor protein and the RXR gamma receptor, an existing protein already involved in the repair of myelin.
When vitamin D was added to brain stem cells where this pair of proteins was present, the production rate of the oligodendrocytes (cells which make myelin) increased by 80%.
If the vitamin D receptor protein was blocked, the RXR gamma protein was unable to stimulate the myelin-making cell production on its own. The conclusion reached by the Cambridge team (in line with the emphasis OMS has been placing on the importance of vitamin D in the treatment of MS) is that in addition to the accepted role of vitamin D (or lack thereof) in the cause of disease, crucially it can also play a part in the regeneration of myelin.
Whilst this is a process which does happen naturally within the body, they point out, it becomes less effective with age. Professor Robin Franklin from the MS Society Cambridge Centre for Myelin Repair and the Wellcome Trust-Medical Research Council Stem Cell Institute, who led the study, summed up that “In the future we could see a myelin repair drug that works by targeting the vitamin D receptor.