Race/Ethinicity, Vitamin A (retinoic acid) and Associated Serum Markers, and Lesion Volumes in MS Patients
Recent studies suggest that vitamin A supplementation may hinder the inflammatory response onset by Multiple Sclerosis (MS), as the retinoids derived from vitamin A reduce major T cell populations and interleukin levels that would otherwise initiate the autoimmune events resulting in MS lesions. The effects of vitamin A on MS, and furthermore, differences in MS severity as a function of vitamin A levels across different demographic groups, have largely remained unexplored.
The current study examined the effects of vitamin A levels on disease severity and on key MS-related biomarkers in patients with corrected vitamin D levels across different demographic groups.
A total of 26 patients were pre-diagnosed with relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) and analyzed at baseline (or at the first visit during which all analyzed measures could be acquired). EDSS scores and lesion volumes were collected as indicators of disease severity, and vitamin A, vitamin D, carotene, total cholesterol, high-density lipoproteins, low-density lipoproteins, and triglyceride levels were collected to establish biochemical variation. Patients were divided into high (7 patients) and low (20 patients) vitamin A level groups to determine any correlation between vitamin A levels and lesion volumes or EDSS scores. Additionally, patients were categorized by race (13 Hispanic whites, 4 non-Hispanic whites, 9 non-Hispanic blacks), gender (15 female, 11 male), age (6 born after 1985, 13 born between 1975 and 1985, 7 born before 1975), and year of diagnosis (14 diagnosed after 2010, 12 diagnosed before 2010). Those with insufficient vitamin D levels were administered supplements.
With the exception of the comparison of RBP levels in the low and high vitamin A groups (P=0.019), vitamin D levels between the Hispanic white and non-Hispanic black groups (P=0.030), lesion volumes between the male Hispanic white and male non-Hispanic black groups (P=0.009), lesion volumes between the male non-Hispanic white and male non-Hispanic black groups (P=0.009), and lesion volumes across all racial groups amongst males (P=0.005), no significant differences were seen (P > 0.05).
The lack of significant findings could largely be attributed to the low sample size of the study, as well as the lack of consistency in the time at which the data was collected. Further studies are required to produce a more definitive understanding of the relationship between MS and vitamin A.