Amino Acids 2019 May 18;51(5):745-759. Epub 2019 Mar 18.
Department of Biochemical Sciences "A. Rossi Fanelli", Sapienza University of Rome, Piazzale Aldo Moro, 5, 00185, Rome, Italy.
It is well recognized that variation in the geographical distribution of prevalence of multiple sclerosis (MS) exists: increasing the latitude its prevalence increases as well, but the underlying causes of such dissimilarity still remained elusive as of today. Currently, the most accredited hypothesis is that the closer to the equator the more pronounced is the amount of sunlight which, in turn, increases the production of vitamin D. Cholecalciferol is indeed deficient in MS patients, but this factor does not explain by itself the etiopathogenesis of the disease. In the present study, to search for a pattern and provide a model of the disease's etiology consistent with this regional factor, as well with its changing ethnic, sex-ratio, lifestyle variations and the other unexplained aspects of MS, an extensive analysis of peer-reviewed literature and data was conducted. The arisen hypothesis was that, increasing the latitude, the factor that varies and can have the stronger effect on the human organism, is the continuous and ever-increasing diversity of the natural light-dark cycle. The consequent effort of the suprachiasmatic nucleus to entrain the organism's circadian rhythm affects the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis resulting in desynchronizing the central and peripheral circadian clocks and pathologizing the immunitary system. To verify such hypothesis, a theoretical framework of the etiopathogenesis, coherent with the gathered literature, was conceived and a demonstration to corroborate it was eventually devised and performed. The results underscored that people living in countries subjected to a further circadian disruptive factor, as daylight saving time, have a 6.35 times higher prevalence of MS than States placed on their same latitude that do not observe it, thus strongly supporting the hypothesis. As further reinforcement of the conclusions, it is worth mentioning that the levels of polyamines rise abruptly in autoimmune diseases. Moreover, among their numerous roles, these polycations participate to the regulation of the circadian clock so their sudden variation might disrupt it. Following these interesting findings, new perspectives in therapies are, therefore, proposed.