Pharmiweb have reported that scientists at the University of Abeerdeen have demonstrated for the first time a clear link between sunlight, vitamin D and an impact on regulatory cells in the immune system in findings that might provide new insights into diseases such as multiple sclerosis.
Some studies have suggested a link between vitamin D deficiency and autoimmune diseases such as MS. This possible link might also explain the increasing prevalence of autoimmune disease among those living far from the equator, where there are lower levels of winter sun
University of Aberdeen researchers studied patients in the north of Scotland – which has the highest rate of MS in the UK – who were being treated during winter with artificial UV-B light therapy for skin diseases caused by their immune systems acting inappropriately
Dr Anthony Ormerod, Clinical Reader in Dermatology at the University, said: “Our study shows that UV-B light, which mimics sunshine, can have a striking effect on the immune system of patients.
“We found that UV-B light boosted the production of vitamin D, and of regulatory T cells, which play an important role keeping our immune systems in check..While too much exposure to sunlight is harmful and increases skin cancer risk, these results suggest that subjects in our study would have some benefits from small amounts equivalent to summer exposure in the winter but more work needs to determine the role of sunlight and the role of supplementing the diet with vitamin D.”
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