Possible link found between salt, autoimmune disease
PARIS (AFP) - A high-salt diet may be a risk factor for autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS), according to three papers published in the journal Nature on Wednesday.
Two of the studies showed that salt can induce the production of aggressive cells involved in autoimmune disease development in mice and humans, while a third indicated that mice on high-salt diets develop a type of disease similar to human MS.
The international teams of scientists cautioned that these are early results that warrant further investigation. "It's premature to say: 'You shouldn't eat salt because you'll get an autoimmune disease'," said one of the study authors, Aviv Regev from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
"We're putting forth an interesting hypothesis - a connection between salt and autoimmunity - that must now be tested through careful epidemiological studies in humans." In two studies in mice and human cells, scientists showed that salt boosted the development of a type of immune cell known as T helper 17, or Th17, that has been implicated in diseases like MS, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis.