Study finds food allergies and MS link

February 22, 2019
Researchers investigating the relationship between allergy and inflammatory disease activity found new evidence linking food allergies and multiple sclerosis relapses. This link between food allergies and MS disease activity highlights an important role for a potential player in immunity and inflammation – the gut. 

Researchers at Brigham and Women's Hospital set out to investigate the relationship between inflammatory disease activity and allergy history in a subset of patients enrolled in a large study known as the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis. A total of 1,349 study participants completed a self-administered questionnaire outlining food, environmental and/or drug allergies. Disease activity was assessed through evaluating the cumulative number of attacks during disease course, and new gadolinium (Gad)-enhancing lesions, as detected by MRI.

Only participants in the food allergy group demonstrated a significantly higher rate of cumulative attacks and increased likelihood of new Gad-lesions compared to participants with no reported food allergies. This effect remained significant even when adjusted for potential confounders such as sex, age at symptom onset, and disease category. No significant effects were observed for the environmental and drug allergy groups after adjusted analyses.

Researchers are working to further uncover these mechanisms of immune dysregulation in allergies and sketch out how such dysregulation affects MS inflammatory activity. Given the correlative nature of this study, the researchers are careful to highlight the limited clinical usefulness of their findings. However, the study’s authors are optimistic about the potential significance of the work and highlights the importance of addressing food allergies in MS patient care.

The results are published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

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