Posted on Mar 25, 2013, 6 a.m.
Excess dietary salt may drive the development of multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and other autoimmune diseases.
There has been a marked increase in the incidence of autoimmune diseases in the past half-century, and many public health experts speculate that this rise cannot be explained solely by genetic factors – rather that diet and lifestyle may be involved. An international team of researchers, led by Markus Kleinewietfeld, from Yale University (Connecticut, USA), and colleagues completed cell culture experiments showing that increased sodium chloride can lead to dramatic induction of aggressive immune cells, known as Th17. In mice in which an experimental autoimmune condition mimicking multiple sclerosis was elicited, the team observed that these autoreactive Th17 cells exert a pivotal role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis. Further, the number of these Th17 cells increased dramatically under a high-salt diet. The study authors conclude that: “Increased dietary salt intake might represent an environmental risk factor for the development of autoimmune diseases through the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells.”
Kleinewietfeld M, Manzel A, Titze J, Kvakan H, Yosef N, Linker RA, Muller DN, Hafler DA. “Sodium chloride drives autoimmune disease by the induction of pathogenic TH17 cells.” Nature. 2013 Mar 6.