We have posted on Oct 12,2011 about issues concerning Multiple Sclerosis, Anemia, and Iron Deposits in the Brain [1] about the paradox of many MS patients being anemic, or having low blood iron.   At the same, MS is accompanied by iron deposits in the brain. Which brought about an unresolved question about the safety MS patients taking iron supplements.

Furthermore, an important epidemiological study was reported showing a higher mortality of older women taking iron supplements. We also discussed this in a post [2].

So iron metabolism is serious business.

Now  another study came to our attention about the MS and  Iron quandary: ” The conundrum of iron in multiple sclerosis ” from a South African team [3]

Quoting :

“…The theory that iron deposition in the brain contributes to MS pathogenesis has caused uncertainty among patients as to whether they should avoid iron. However, the fact that a subgroup of people diagnosed with MS show clinical improvement when they are on iron supplementation …”

So the study advocates  Pathology Supported Genetic Testing (PSGT) to ferret out that elusive group of MS people that might benefit from iron supplementation. A good idea of the complexity of this method can be found in an article from the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry [4]

The  studies [3,4] advocating PSGT goes actually further and proposes iron imbalance itself as a cause for some cases of MS (or is it like symptoms?),  and connect iron overload and inflammation in the brain to its depletion elsewhere.

Quoting [3] further:  “…Although the involvement of immune mechanisms in multiple sclerosis (MS) is undisputed, some argue that there is insufficient evidence to support the hypothesis that MS is an autoimmune disease..”

Quoting [4]: “… Impaired methylation is implicated by the finding of higher homocysteine levels in MS….a study clearly demonstrated that optimal functioning of the folate-vitamin B12-methyl transfer pathway is a prerequisite for myelin production and maintenance. While functional polymorphsisms in genes of the methyl transfer pathway may cause inadequate myelination ….”

Bottom Line: An interesting hypothesis, but the interaction of iron metabolism and the immune system needs more work.

Talk to your Doctor

Sources:

  1. medinewsdigest ; “Multiple Sclerosis, Anemia, and Iron Deposits in the Brain ; Oct 12 2011
  2. medinewsdigest ; “IN BRIEF: Iron Supplementation For Women Could Be Risky” ; March 15  2012
  3. Metabolic Brain Disease ;
  4. ifcc ; “Pathogenic mechanisms underlying iron deficiency and iron overload: New insights for clinical application”; 2012

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