Welcome! This blog contains research & information on lifestyle, nutrition and health for those with MS, as well as continuing information on the understanding of the endothelium and heart-brain connection. This blog is informative only--all medical decisions should be discussed with your own physicians.

The posts are searchable---simply type in your topic of interest in the search box at the top left.

Almost all of MS research is initiated and funded by pharmaceutical companies. This maintains the EAE mouse model and the auto-immune paradigm of MS, and continues the 20 billion dollar a year MS treatment industry. But as we learn more about slowed blood flow, gray matter atrophy, and environmental links to MS progression and disability--all things the current drugs do not address--we're discovering more about how to help those with MS.

To learn how this journey began, read my first post from August, 2009. Be well! Joan

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

New research on UV rays and MS symptom reduction

Most of you know about my suggestion that people with MS seek UV ray therapy, by spending ten to fifteen minutes in sunshine daily, or using UVB phototherapy in less sunny locales.  Not just to maintain healthy Vitamin D levels, but to boost levels of Nitric Oxide (NO).

I first wrote about this in the Endothelial Health Program in 2008.  We make sure Jeff gets his daily rays (as well as daily exercise and phytonutrients.)  Here's the program again, for new readers.

In the following note, I wrote about the ground-breaking, Noble prize winning research of Dr. Furchgott--he discovered the importance of Nitric Oxide and the process of "photorelaxation" or the vasodilation that occurs thanks to UVB rays.

Dr. Furchgott discovered the process of photorelaxation over 40 years ago.  What he noted in the lab was that exposure to UV rays changed the endothelium, encouraging nitric oxide production and vasodilation of arteries.  

It would be decades later Dr. Richard Weller discovered exactly how UVB rays released nitrates via our skin--and explained how this could explain the connection of latitude and heart disease.

Dr. Richard Weller of Edinburgh University reports on research finding that when skin is exposed to UV rays for 20 minutes, vasodilating nitric oxide is released.  This effect is independent of vitamin D levels--and may explain why even if D levels are raised by supplementation, the full benefit is not received.  

So, I was understandably interested to see a group of neurologists looking at the effect of UVB rays on people with MS.  

The neurologists first look at the murine model of MS, called EAE.  But, as Dr. Weller explains in his wonderful TED talk---mouse models do not work when we're discussing UVB rays and their affect on humans....because mice do not process UV the same way we do.  They do not have the same skin.  After learning this, Dr. Weller did all of his research on his student lab assistants, and as he quips, "They are cheap, and no one pickets you saying, save the lab assistants!"

Here's Dr. Weller on his discovery of what UVB rays do in humans.  If you haven't watched this TED talk yet--please do!  You'll thank me later.  (For a scientist, he's really entertaining!) 

Alright, back to the new paper from the Department of Neurology in Munster, Germany, which is titled:
UVB light attenuates the systemic immune response in CNS autoimmunity.

Here's what they saw in humans....an anti-inflammatory response in MS due to UV ray exposure.

Additionally, patients with relapsing-remitting MS were treated with narrowband UVB phototherapy. Immunomodulatory effects were examined in skin biopsies, serum samples and in immune cells of the peripheral blood. 
Results: Regulatory T cells (Tregs), which are induced locally in the skin-draining lymph nodes in response to UVB exposure, connect the cutaneous immune response to CNS immunity by migration to the sites of inflammation (blood, spleen, CNS). Here, they attenuate the inflammatory response and ameliorate disease symptoms. Treg-inducing tolerogenic Dendritic Cells (DCs) were further necessary for induction of this systemic immune regulation by UVB radiation since ablation of Langerhans cells abolished the UVB-induced phenotype. MS patients treated with UVB phototherapy showed an increase in induced Tregs and tolerogenic DCs accompanied by the downregulation of the T-cell effector cytokine interleukin (IL) -21. The treatment further induced elevated serum levels of vitamin D. Interpretation: Local UVB radiation of the skin influences systemic immune reactions and attenuates systemic autoimmunity via the induction of skin-derived tolerogenic DCs and Tregs.

Now, in English :)  When people with MS were exposed to UVB rays, their lymph nodes responded by sending out regulatory t cells to areas of inflammation.  These Treg cells are"good guys."  They calm inflammation.  And Tregs are enhanced by UVB rays via skin cells.  People who got UVB rays had a reduction of MS symptoms.  No prescription necessary.

That's right---neurologists are telling us that UVB rays helped pwMS! 

In fact, we already know this happens.  It's why UV ray phototherapy is used for patients with psoriasis.  UV light increases Treg cells, which in turn reduce inflammatory cells.

How, exactly, does this happen?  Although it's not mentioned here, other researchers have explained it ...Wait for it.....it's Nitric Oxide!

Nitric Oxide (NO), the marker of endothelial health, is also responsible for helping those treg cells leave the lymph nodes and head to sites of inflammation, calming MS inflammation and symptoms.  The same Nitric Oxide that Dr. Weller has shown to be released from human skin cells by UVB rays.  It's all connected.

The endothelium is the interface between our vascular and immune systems.  The lining of our blood vessels connects every inch of our body.  Nitric Oxide is essential for our health.  And we can boost NO with nutrition, lifestyle, exercise, meditation, and sunshine.

I continue to hope that neurologists will reach out across the aisle, and work with endothelial specialists, to understand the intricate interplay between our vascular and immune systems. To move beyond the credo of EAE and autoimmunity, which may exist in mice, but not in men.  To understand the connection of the heart and the brain, via the vasculature.  The ISNVD is looking at this connection, and they want neurologists to join them.

It's all there.
Sunny days ahead,

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