Mounting evidence for vitamin D as an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence

Margherita T. Cantorna, Brett D. Mahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

415 Scopus citations

Abstract

Low vitamin D status has been implicated in the etiology of autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, and inflammatory bowel disease. The optimal level of vitamin D intake required to support optimal immune function is not known but is likely to be at least that required for healthy bones. Experimentally, vitamin D deficiency results in the increased incidence of autoimmune disease. Mechanistically, the data point to a role for vitamin D in the development of self-tolerance. The vitamin D hormone (1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D3) regulates T helper cell (Th1) and dendritic cell function while inducing regulatory T-cell function. The net result is a decrease in the Th1-driven autoimmune response and decreased severity of symptoms. This review discusses the accumulating evidence pointing to a link between vitamin D and autoimmunity. Increased vitamin D intakes might decrease the incidence and severity of autoimmune diseases and the rate of bone fracture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1136-1142
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Volume229
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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