Vitamin D is known to be able to suppress the immune system. It also makes immune cells more sensitive to glucocorticoids, an often used immunosuppression drug. Female sex hormones increase the sensitivity of immune cells to vitamin D. In one model it had been claimed that these hormones could even prevent the development of MS (multiple sclerosis). The Th17.1 cell is resistant to glucocorticoids and migrates to the brain to stimulate local inflammation processes in MS.
This research will use Th17.1 cells originating from different groups of patients with early MS and stimulate these with both vitamin D and female sex hormones to see whether it decreases the activity of these Th17.1 cells. In addition, they will investigate whether treatment results in sensitization of these cells for glucocorticoids.
The results of this project will contribute directly to;
- A better understanding of natural regulation of inflammation in MS (prevalence in women, protection by pregnancy, vitamin D and glucocorticoid sensitivity)
- Development of more personalized therapy against pathogenic T cells in MS.