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Vitamin D's 'dramatic' impact on MS susceptibility revealed by scientists; Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say their study has shed light on how vitamin D deficiency may influence the risk of autoimmune diseases.

Byline: James Rodger

Vitamin D can "dramatically" affect the immune system and could make people less susceptible to diseases such as multiple sclerosis, scientists have discovered.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh say their study has shed light on how vitamin D deficiency may influence the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The body produces vitamin D in response to sunlight and the scientists investigated how it affects a mechanism in the immune system - dendritic cells' ability to activate T cells.

In healthy people, T cells play a crucial role in helping fight infection, but in people with autoimmune diseases, they can start to attack the body's own tissues.

By studying cells from both mice and humans, researchers found vitamin D caused dendritic cells to produce more of a molecule called CD31 on their surface, and that this hindered the activation of T cells.

CD31 was seen to prevent the two cell types from making a stable contact - an essential part of the activation process - and the resulting immune reaction was far reduced.

Professor Richard Mellanby, of the University of Edinburgh's Centre for Inflammation Research, said: "Low vitamin D status has long been implicated as a significant risk factor for the development of several autoimmune diseases.

"Our study reveals one way in which vitamin D metabolites can dramatically influence the immune system."

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The study, published in Frontiers of Immunology, was funded by the Medical Research Council, Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Wellcome.

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HUNDREDS OF DOGS TO DESCEND ON NEATH PORT TALBOT FOR THE GREAT BRITISH DOG WALK The Great British Dog Walk, a popular charity event run by national charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, is back in Wales for a fifth year and is returning to Margam Country Park, Neath Port Talbot on Sunday 24th March 2019. Hundreds of walkers of all ages, and dogs of all shapes and sizes, will be walking the walk to have fun, meet like-minded people and support Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, the charity that trains dogs that help deaf people leave behind loneliness and reconnect with life. The walk is sponsored by Specsavers Audiologists, helping Hearing Dogs to raise more funds to change the lives of deaf people. New for this year, walkers can get themselves or their dogs sponsored by friends, family and colleagues to raise money to fund hearing dog puppy Troys training journey. Troy is a cocker spaniel puppy who has just began his training to become a life-changing hearing dog. Over the next two years he will be trained to alert deaf people to important and life-saving sounds, such as the smoke alarm, intruder alarm, alarm clock and oven timer. It costs around [pounds sterling]40,000 to fully train and support a hearing dog for the duration of its life and Hearing Dogs for Deaf People receives no government funding so every walker will be helping to change the life of a deaf person. On the day there are two walk options either 3km or 5km routes (approx.) making it ideal for dog owners, families, single walkers, organised walking groups and those who simply want to meet lots of dogs and get a bit of exercise for a good cause. Vicky Ryan, Hearing Dogs community fundraising manager for South Wales, said: Hearing dogs are real life-changers. Not only do they alert deaf people to important sounds, like the smoke alarm, intruder alarm and alarm clock, but they also provide constant emotional support, helping people to feel less isolated and enabling them to overcome barriers and reconnect
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Publication:Crosby Herald (Liverpool, England)
Date:Apr 15, 2019
Words:600
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