Auto immune disease occurs when a body does not recognize self and non-self. The process of the body identifying what is non-self occurs by B (matured in the bone marrow) cells. Activated B-cells transform into plasma cells that release antibodies into the blood. Antibodies are proteins that circulate throughout the bloodstream and then bind themselves to what they identify as foreign – covering them, coating them and neutralizing them or marking them for destruction by macrophages (connective tissue monocytes1.) When the immune system’s target organ is the thyroid, it is called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis (HT).
There is increasing belief that, just like CVD and other ailments, there is not one cause. The varying factors involved in HT may include environmental toxins (such as fluoride, radiation, pesticides), intestinal parasites (yersinia enterocolitica), viruses like parvovirus B19, (hepatitis C, EBV and HTLV-12 are thought to possibly be implicated in this as well), or even stress alone may be powerful enough to cause such an immune dysfunction.
Vitamin D has been shown to have a critical role in helping the body make this distinction between what is self and what is enemy. Scientists do not fully agree on exactly how this is done. One review of the literature said in its results and conclusion, “Some of the authors suggested that Vitamin D3 carryout its immunosuppressive and immune modulatory action, through its actions on antigen presenting cells and activated T [cells that complete their development in the thymus] and B-cells with the help of Vitamin D receptors (VDR) present on each of these cells…by making qualitative and quantitative changes in the immune system (down-regulation of Th1 and up-regulations of Th2 cells.)3
If Vitamin D is involved in the “regulation and proliferation of the Th1 and Th17 lymphocyte”3 and we don’t understand exactly how it does this, why not make sure vitamin d levels are optimal in cases of immune and auto immune issues? This is certainly not the only answer to the immune dysfunction of HT and other autoimmune issues, but any practical step we can take to address the causes may well be worth it. Reducing exposure to radiation and the high stress; anxiety and depression [that] are known to have deleterious effects on immune balance”4 and finding restoring activities such as exercise and slow stretching may be factors that contribute to a more normally functioning immune system.
- Human Biology by Daniel Chiras, Eighth edition, publ by Jones and Bartlett Learning
- Viral Immunol.2008 Sep;21(3):379-83. doi: 10.1089/vim.2008.0001. Association of parvovirus B19 infection and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in children. Lehmann HW1, Lutterbüse N, Plentz A, Akkurt I, Albers N, Hauffa BP, Hiort O, Schoenau E, Modrow S
- Scand J Immunol.2016 Nov 29. doi: 10.1111/sji.12512. [Epub ahead of print] Immunomodulatory and Immunosuppressive roles of 1α,25(OH)2D3 In Autoimmune Alhassan Mohammed H1, Saboor-Yaraghi AA1, Mirshafiey A1, Vahedi H2, Shiri-Shahsavar MR3, Mousavi Nasl Khameneh A3
For more details consider:
- Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol.2014 Feb;112(2):154-62. doi: 10.1016/j.anai.2013.11.015. Epub 2013 Dec 10. Effect of vitamin D on T-helper type 9 polarized human memory cells in chronic persistent asthma. Keating P1, Munim A2, Hartmann JX2
- Am J Physiol Renal Physiol.2014 Dec 15;307(12):F1412-26. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00024.2014. Epub 2014 Oct 22. Mesenchymal stem cells and a vitamin D receptor agonist additively suppress T helper 17 cells and the related inflammatory response in the kidney. Duffy MM1, McNicholas BA1, Monaghan DA2, Hanley SA1, McMahon JM2, Pindjakova J1, Alagesan S1, Fearnhead HO3, Griffin MD4