HealthDay News — For patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), food allergy is associated with a greater number of attacks and with a higher likelihood of gadolinium-enhancing lesions, according to a study published online December 18 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Rami Fakih, MD, from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the correlations between self-reported history of allergic conditions and MS among a subset of 1349 patients enrolled in the Comprehensive Longitudinal Investigation of Multiple Sclerosis at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (CLIMB). Patients were classified into four allergy groups: environmental, food, drug, and no known allergies (NKA).

The researchers found that compared with patients in the NKA group, those in the food allergy group had a 1.38 times higher rate for cumulative number of attacks; in an adjusted analysis, this difference remained significant (relapse rate ratio, 1.27). The likelihood of having gadolinium-enhancing lesions on magnetic resonance imaging was increased more than twofold in the food allergy group (odds ratio, 2.53). Compared with the NKA group, the environmental and drug allergy groups did not show significant differences; no types of allergy affected the expanded disability status scale and MS severity score.

“Future prospective studies are needed to confirm our findings and understand the underlying biological mechanism, by analyzing blood biomarkers of allergy, which can lead to new therapeutic and preventative strategies for MS,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed ties to biopharmaceutical companies, including Merck Serono, which provided funding for the CLIMB study.

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