Methylation Cycle Connections to Vitiligo


The number of correlations linking methylation cycle SNPS (single nucleotide polymorphisms) to various disease is growing.  In this case, researching in Italy found three gene SNPS in higher frequencies for patients with vitiligo.  This autoimmune attack on one’s skin melanin cells leaves behind an absence of pigment in coalescing patches.  Stopping its progression across the patient’s body and reversing the past depigmentation stands as a challenge to conventional medicine and functional medicine.  In functional medicine, we can sometimes see improvement if we can identify the trigger for the immune dysfunction.

            These Italian researches compared patients with vitiligo to a control group without the autoimmune disease.  Three methylation cycle genes stood out as being more frequent in the vitiligo patients:  MTHFR, CBS, and MTRR.  MTHFR 677 homozygous states were found at a statistically higher rate in vitiligo patients along with CBS 278TT and MTHRR 66GG patients.  The CBS enzyme (cystathionine-beta-synthase) and the MTRR enzyme (methionine-synthase-reductase) are involved in the methylation cycle and its accompanying tran-sulfuration branch. 

            The mechanism for this correlation remains unexplained and does any idea if addressing these snps and/or methylation cycle vitamins would make a difference in disease progression.  It only hints at the importance of the methylation cycle and its enzymes to both health and illness.  This appears to be the first genetic predisposition (according to the researchers) with vitiligo.  Hopefully, others will pursue this discovery and shed more light into the connections.

            At Sanctuary, we will file this information away and look forward to how we might incorporate this into the care of our vitiligo patients in coming years.  Just another tool to help patients live healthier more abundant lives.

G. Benincasa, G. Di Spigna, C. Cappelli, R. Di Francia, M. Ottaiano, M. Sansone, L. Iodice, E. De Marinis, L. Postiglione
High incidence of MTHFR, CBS, and MTRR polymorphisms in vitiligo patients. Preliminary report in a retrospective study

Eur Rev Med Pharmacol Sci
Year: 2019
Vol. 23 – N. 2
Pages: 471-478
DOI: 10.26355/eurrev_201901_16858

Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.

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  1. Avatar
    Karole Whaley

    I have been diagnosed with vitiligo and would like to have information from you about what can arrest or possible reverse it.
    Please send information to me by email or let me know how I can find this information.

    1. Dr. Potter
      Dr. Potter

      Thanks for reaching out with questions. For vitiligo, we apply the usual functional medicine approach of searching for root causes that are treatable. If we find them, we target these primary causes with the goal of reversing disease. Food sensitivities, toxicities, and chronic infections overlying hormonal and immune system dysfunction play a large role in this approach. This may take 1-2 years to see changes with vitiligo, but sometimes occurs. One patient is just seeing pigment cells starting to repopulate after about 2 years.
      Blessings, Dr. Potter

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