Multiple sclerosis risk changes with the season

January 29, 2010

Previous studies have shown multiple sclerosis (MS) patients are more often born in spring than in any other season, indicating that there is an environmental risk factor for the disease. A paper in the journal Neurology, reviewed for f1000 Medicine by Emmanuelle Waubant and Ellen Mowry, now suggests that this seasonal effect is mediated by the gene HLA-DRB1.

In many European populations, the HLA-DRB1*15 allele of this gene is associated with an increased risk of MS, and the large-scale study of MS patients from Canada, Sweden and Norway now shows that this allele is more common among patients born in the spring.

Waubant and Mowry said the study was "unique in its attempt to understand how genes and environment interact in MS". However, even though there is a correlation between birth month, genetics and risk of MS, it is not yet clear how this is regulated.

One likely contender is , which influences expression of the HLA-DRB1*15 allele. Since vitamin D production fluctuates with the seasons, a vitamin D deficit in pregnant mothers could be related to the increased risk of MS among spring births, but this requires further investigation.

Waubant and Mowry said the study may influence preventative and therapeutic treatments through the understanding of environmental risks and their interaction with relevant genotypes.

Previous studies by the Neurology paper's authors showed that in people who carry the , a lack of vitamin D during early life might impair the ability of the thymus to delete rogue , which then go on to attack the body, leading to a loss of on the nerve fibres.

Study author Dr Sreeram Ramagopalan said that taking vitamin D supplements during pregnancy may reduce the risk of a child developing MS in later life. Government guidelines also recommend that children under five take daily vitamin D supplements.

More information: The full text of this article is available free for 90 days at www.f1000medicine.com/article/ … j40r2slgt/id/1387957

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Activating MSc glutamatergic neurons found to cause mice to eat less

December 13, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—A trio of researchers working at the State University of New York has found that artificially stimulating neurons that exist in the medial septal complex in mouse brains caused test mice to eat less. In ...

Scientists discover blood sample detection method for multiple sclerosis

December 13, 2017
A method for quickly detecting signs of multiple sclerosis has been developed by a University of Huddersfield research team.

LLNL-developed microelectrodes enable automated sorting of neural signals

December 13, 2017
Thin-film microelectrode arrays produced at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have enabled development of an automated system to sort brain activity by individual neurons, a technology that could open the door ...

Intermittent fasting found to increase cognitive functions in mice

December 12, 2017
(Medical Xpress)—The Daily Mail spoke with the leader of a team of researchers with the National Institute on Aging in the U.S. and reports that they have found that putting mice on a diet consisting of eating nothing every ...

Discovery deepens understanding of brain's sensory circuitry

December 12, 2017
Because they provide an exemplary physiological model of how the mammalian brain receives sensory information, neural structures called "mouse whisker barrels" have been the subject of study by neuroscientists around the ...

Neuroscientists show deep brain waves occur more often during navigation and memory formation

December 12, 2017
UCLA neuroscientists are the first to show that rhythmic waves in the brain called theta oscillations happen more often when someone is navigating an unfamiliar environment, and that the more quickly a person moves, the more ...

0 comments

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.