Low vitamin D levels may be associated with recurrent inflammatory spinal cord disease

November 14, 2011

Vitamin D levels are significantly lower in patients with recurrent inflammatory spinal cord disease, according to a study published Online First by Archives of Neurology.

Vitamin D is a steroid vitamin that promotes the intestinal absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. In recent years, low levels of vitamin D have been linked to a variety of , including multiple sclerosis (MS, a disease of the central nervous system marked by numbness, weakness, loss of muscle coordination, and problems with vision, speech, and bladder control). However, the importance of vitamin D in monophasic or recurrent non-MS spinal cord diseases including transverse myelitis and neuromyelitis optica is unknown, according to background information in the article. Transverse myelitis (TM) is a disease of the spinal cord in which there is involvement of the that protects ; symptoms include back pain and weakness in the legs. Neuromyelitis optica (NMO) is a disease of the that affects the and spinal cord.

Maureen A. Mealy, R.N., B.S.N., of Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, and colleagues investigated the association between low serum vitamin D levels and recurrent spinal cord disease. They analyzed data on vitamin D levels among 77 patients with monophasic (having only one phase or stage) and recurrent of the spinal cord, adjusting for season, age, sex, and race.

The study found that vitamin D levels were significantly lower in patients who developed recurrent spinal cord disease. "Our findings suggest that there may be an association between lower total 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in patients with recurrent TM/NMO/NMO spectrum disorders as compared with their counterparts with monophasic disease," the authors report.

"This is consistent with other recurrent autoimmune conditions and points to a common link between low vitamin D levels and immunologic dysregulation," they write.

The authors suggest that future studies are needed to further assess the relationship between vitamin D and recurrent spinal cord disease. "This study provides a basis for a prospective trial of measuring 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels in these patient populations and assessing the influence of supplementation on the frequency of relapses in those with recurrent inflammatory spinal cord disease," they conclude.

Explore further: Low vitamin D levels seen as multiple sclerosis risk for African-Americans

More information: Arch Neurol. 2011; Published online November 14, 2011. doi:10.1001/archneurol.2011.1974

Related Stories

Recommended for you

New insights on how cocaine changes the brain

November 25, 2015

The burst of energy and hyperactivity that comes with a cocaine high is a rather accurate reflection of what's going on in the brain of its users, finds a study published November 25 in Cell Reports. Through experiments conducted ...

Can physical exercise enhance long-term memory?

November 25, 2015

Exercise can enhance the development of new brain cells in the adult brain, a process called adult neurogenesis. These newborn brain cells play an important role in learning and memory. A new study has determined that mice ...

Umbilical cells help eye's neurons connect

November 24, 2015

Cells isolated from human umbilical cord tissue have been shown to produce molecules that help retinal neurons from the eyes of rats grow, connect and survive, according to Duke University researchers working with Janssen ...

Brain connections predict how well you can pay attention

November 24, 2015

During a 1959 television appearance, Jack Kerouac was asked how long it took him to write his novel On The Road. His response – three weeks – amazed the interviewer and ignited an enduring myth that the book was composed ...

No cable spaghetti in the brain

November 24, 2015

Our brain is a mysterious machine. Billions of nerve cells are connected such that they store information as efficiently as books are stored in a well-organized library. To this date, many details remain unclear, for instance ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.