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African-Americans With MS May Have Lower Vitamin D Levels

Last Updated: May 24, 2011.

African-Americans with multiple sclerosis may have lower serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, but disease severity is not associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, according to a study published in the May 24 issue of Neurology.

TUESDAY, May 24 (HealthDay News) -- African-Americans with multiple sclerosis (MS) may have lower serum levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D, but disease severity is not associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels, according to a study published in the May 24 issue of Neurology.

Jeffrey M. Gelfand, M.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues assessed the correlation between vitamin D levels and MS status in African-Americans. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels and MS disease severity (Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score [MSSS]) were compared between 339 African-American patients with MS and 342 controls.

The investigators identified vitamin D deficiency in 77 percent of patients and 71 percent of controls (<20 ng/mL; <50 nmol/L), and vitamin D insufficiency in 94 percent of patients and 93 percent of controls (<30 ng/mL; <75 nmol/L). The MS group had significantly lower unadjusted and deseasonalized 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels. An analysis identified that this correlation was mainly due to differences in latitude and ultraviolet index. The average MSSS was 6.1 with no evident correlation between the MSSS and vitamin D status. There was a positive correlation between 25-hydroxyvitamin D and having a higher proportion of European genetic ancestry, a measure of genetic admixture.

"Levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D were lower in African-Americans with MS than controls; an observation primarily explained by differences in climate and geography. There was no apparent association between vitamin D status and disease severity," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.

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