The Link Between Vitamin D, MS, and Your Genes

Vitamin D and MS
The genetic connection between Vitamin D and MS

Many have drawn the conclusion that there must be a link between Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis based on the distribution of cases at certain latitudes.  [link]

A study in 2009 titled “Expression of the Multiple Sclerosis-Associated MHC Class II Allele HLA-DRB1*1501 Is Regulated by Vitamin D” discusses the connection between MS and Vitamin D. The authors’ summary states that:

“The current investigation sought to uncover any relationship between vitamin D and HLA-DRB1. It was found that vitamin D specifically interacts with HLA-DRB1*1501 to influence its expression. This study therefore provides more direct support for the already strong epidemiological evidence implicating sunlight and vitamin D in the determination of MS risk, and implies that vitamin D supplementation at critical time periods may be key to disease prevention.”

The HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype (group of genes inherited together) corresponds to the SNP rs3135388 according to the SNPedia.  The CC alleles have no increased risk of Multiple Sclerosis.  People with rs3135388 (AA) have a 6x increase in MS risk, while those with AG type have a 3x increase in MS risk.

Check your 23andMe results for rs3135388:

  •  AA: 6x increase in risk for MS, Vitamin D may help
  • AG: 3x increase in risk for MS, Vitamin D may help
  • GG: no increased risk for MS


My take away:  If you are at an increased risk for MS due to the HLA-DRB1*1501 haplotype, you may want to get your Vitamin D levels checked.  Read more from the Vitamin D Council on how to get your daily D.  Note that there are 15 other SNPs also thought to be associated in some way with Multiple Sclerosis.

More information:

2 Replies to “The Link Between Vitamin D, MS, and Your Genes”

    1. Hi Jessica –
      Thanks for asking the question about GG. The results from 23andMe are always given on the forward strand of DNA, while for this study, the results were given on the reverse strand. In DNA, the bases always pair together in a specific way: C pairs with G, and T pairs with A. So for any study that gives the results in for the reverse strand, you can ‘translate’ it to the 23andMe orientation with C=G and A=T.
      So that was the long explanation… I do appreciate you asking the question! I’ve gone back and changed the article to match up with 23andMe orientation so that everyone else isn’t confused as well.

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