Conference Coverage

Vitamin D as an Add-On Therapy May Improve MRI Outcomes in MS


LONDON—High-dose vitamin D as an add-on therapy may improve MRI outcomes in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (MS), according to a study presented at the 32nd Congress of the European Committee for Treatment and Research in MS.

“Vitamin D is the precursor of a potent immunoregulatory molecule. However, whether supplementation of it improves outcomes is uncertain, since existing medical evidence is contradictory and involves small patient numbers,” said Raymond Hupperts, MD, PhD, Professor of Neurology at Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

Raymond Hupperts, MD, PhD

Previous studies have found an association between low serum levels of vitamin D and a greater risk of developing MS and poor MS outcomes. As a result, Dr. Hupperts and colleagues conducted the SOLAR (Supplementation of VigantOL Oil Versus Placebo as Add-on in Patients With Relapsing Remitting MS Receiving Rebif Treatment) study to investigate the effects of vitamin D as add-on therapy in patients receiving subcutaneous interferon beta-1a.

The SOLAR study included 229 patients who were stratified by serum vitamin D level and randomized to vitamin D or placebo. Patients with serum vitamin D levels less than 150 nmol/L were randomized to one of two treatment groups. In treatment group one, patients were given 6,670 IU/day of vitamin D for four weeks, followed by 14,007 IU for 44 weeks or 92 weeks as an add-on to interferon beta-1a. In treatment group two, patients received matching placebo daily as an add-on therapy to interferon beta-1a.

The primary end point for the study was the proportion of patients with no evidence of disease activity (NEDA), which was defined as no relapses, no progression in Expanded Disability Status Scale (EDSS) score, and no gadolinium-enhancing T1 lesions or new or enlarging T2 MRI lesions, at Week 48. The secondary end points included annualized relapse rate (ARR) at Week 48, EDSS progression at Week 48, time to confirmed EDSS score progression, number of combined unique active (CUA) lesions per patient per scan at Week 48, number of T1-hypointense lesions at Week 48, and change from baseline in the total volume of T2 lesions at Week 48.

The ARR was lower in the vitamin D group, but the difference between groups was not statistically significant. However, the relapse rate in the vitamin D group was 0.28 versus 0.41 in the placebo group, a 30% difference at Week 48. In addition, vitamin D was associated with significantly better MRI outcomes. The number of CUA lesions at Week 48 was 1.09 in the vitamin D group and 1.49 in the placebo group. The change from baseline of the total volume of T2 lesions was 3.57% in the vitamin D group and 6.07% in the placebo group. Eighty-five percent of participants between ages 18 and 30 in the vitamin D group and 46.8% of this age group in the placebo arm had no new T1-hypointense lesions at Week 48.

“We conclude that SOLAR did not show a significant effect [of vitamin D] on the primary end point. However, because of ARR and MRI findings, we suggest a benefit of high-dose vitamin D,” said Dr. Hupperts. The researchers added that vitamin D supplementation may be more effective in early stages of MS, and they found no additional safety issues associated with high-dose vitamin D.

Erica Tricarico

Suggested Reading

Ashtari F, Toghianifar N, Zarkesh-Esfahani SH, Mansourian M. High dose vitamin D intake and quality of life in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Neurol Res. 2016;38(10):888-892.

Next Article:

MS relapse predictors identified after patients stop treatment

Related Articles