A new study says that a diet that is too high in salt would play a part in the development of autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis. Experiments conducted in labs showed that a form of immune cell that is tied to MS was more aggressive and active when being exposed to increased levels of sodium chloride – common table salt.
The helper cells, Th17, pumped out signals that were chemical in nature that are able to trigger extreme immune reactions. With elevated salt concentrations present, this increase is up to 10 times higher than ordinary conditions, said Dr. Markus Kleinwietfeld, the author of the study and a professor at Yale University.
In laboratory mice, increasing the salt consumption in the diet led to a severe form of disease that is similar to MS. The quantity of pro-inflammatory cells (Th17) in mice’s nervous system was significantly increased. Higher salt ingestion accelerated the normal T-cell development into Th17 cells that were harmful.
MS develops when the immune system of the body destroys the myelin, or insulating fatty lining that covers nerve fibers. The transmission of the body’s nerve messages then become interfered with, leading to a broad range of symptoms, which includes paralysis.
Th17 cells at the size of molecules are regulated by the amount of salt intake, said the scientists involved in the research. The latest findings, said another researcher, are a significant contribution to better understanding MS and could offer new goals for finding a better treatment for the debilitating disease.