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Eur J Neurol. 2012 Jul;19(7):955-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2011.03650.x. Epub 2012 Jan 31.

Sunlight is associated with decreased multiple sclerosis risk: no interaction with human leukocyte antigen-DRB1*15.

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1
Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden. maria.baarnhielm@karolinska.se

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

  Both insufficient exposure to sunlight and vitamin D deficiency have been associated with an increased risk for multiple sclerosis (MS). An interaction between human leukocyte antigen HLA-DRB1*15 and vitamin D in MS was recently proposed. We investigated the association between previous exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR), vitamin D status at inclusion in the study, and MS risk including the interaction of these factors with HLA-DRB1*15.

METHODS:

  A population-based case-control study involving 1013 incident cases of MS and 1194 controls was performed in Sweden during 2005-2010. Subjects were classified according to their UVR exposure habits, vitamin D status, and HLA genotypes. The associations between different sun exposure habits/vitamin D levels and MS were calculated as odds ratios (OR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) using logistic regression. Potential interaction was evaluated by calculating the attributable proportion due to interaction.

RESULTS:

  Subjects with low UVR exposure had a significantly increased risk of MS compared with those who reported the highest exposure (OR 2.2, 95% CI 1.5-3.3). Similarly, subjects who had 25-hydroxy-vitamin D levels less than 50 nM/l had an increased risk for MS (OR 1.4, 95% CI 1.2-1.7). The association between UVR exposure and MS risk persisted after adjustment for vitamin D status. There was no interaction with HLA-DRB1*15 carriage.

CONCLUSIONS:

  UVR and vitamin D seem to affect MS risk in adults independently of HLA-DRB1*15 status. UVR exposure may also exert a protective effect against developing MS via other pathways than those involving vitamin D.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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