Three recent studies have found that high salt levels have been found to trigger autoimmune diseases in mice, with one study also confirming this occurred with human cells in vitro:
"Some forms of autoimmunity have been linked to overproduction of TH17 cells, a type of helper T cell that produces an inflammatory protein called interleukin-17."
'All this evidence, Kuchroo says, “is building a very interesting hypothesis [that] salt may be one of the environmental triggers of autoimmunity”.'
"But Kuchroo and other researchers say that evidence so far cannot predict the effect of salt on human autoimmunity. “As a physician, I’m very cautious,” Hafler says. “Should patients go on a low-salt diet? Yes,” he says, adding that “people should probably already be on a low-salt diet” for general health concerns."
Interestingly, a report in my local paper includes some additional quotes from one of the researchers, where Vitamin D levels are specifically mentioned:
"It’s not just salt, of course," said author Vijay Kuchroo, co-director of the Centre for Infection and Immunity at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.
"We have this genetic architecture – genes that have been linked to various forms of autoimmune diseases and predispose a person to developing autoimmune diseases.
"But we also suspect that environmental factors – infection, smoking and lack of sunlight and Vitamin D may play a role," Kuchroo said in a joint statement.
Given the regulatory role of B-lymphocytes on T-lymphocytes, it might be wise for us to all look at opportunities to reduce our salt intake.
Since most of the salt in our diet comes already included in purchased foods, rather than from what we add for taste, it is well worthwhile either choosing low salt varieties or checking the amount of salt when selecting from competing brands and choosing one with lower salt content.
Chris (CLLCanada), I'd be interested in your thoughts.