Saturday, January 30, 2010

Risk of multiple sclerosis highest for indviduals born in spring

New research shows that risk for multiple sclerosis is highest for individuals born in the springtime. The study suggests a strong link between environmental risk factors that could be responsible for the development of Multiple Sclerosis.

Emmanuelle Waubant and Ellen Mowry carried out the study that suggests multiple sclerosis development is influenced by the gene HLA-DRB1 and linked to a seasonal influence that is more common among individuals born in spring.

Waubant and Mowry call the study "unique in its attempt to understand how genes and environment interact in MS", though scientists do not have a clear understanding about birth month, genes and risk for multiple sclerosis.

The researchers say vitamin D deficiency that flucuates seasonally and could be present during pregnancy may be a factor that increases the chances of multiple sclerosis developing for those born in the spring.

Lack of vitamin D early in life, combined with a variant of the gene HLA-DRB1*15 could also be a factor that leads to multiple sclerosis. Too little vitamin D in early life might lead to impaired ability of the thymus to eliminate rogue T cells, that attack the body and lead to a loss of myelin on the nerve fibres.

The study authors say the findings that multiple sclerosis risk is higher for those born in the spring could lead to interventions once the role of genes and environmental risk for MS are more thoroughly understood. Past studies have also shown that individuals born in spring are at highest risk for the development of multiple sclerosis. Researchers now find it may be due to expression of the HLA-DRB1*15 allele that is influenced by vitamin D. ◦