Vitamin D: Its role and uses in immunology

H. F. Deluca, M. T. Cantorna

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

659 Scopus citations

Abstract

In recent years there has been an effort to understand possible noncalcemic roles of vitamin D, including its role in the immune system and, in particular, on T cell-medicated immunity. Vitamin D receptor is found in significant concentrations in the T lymphocyte and macrophage populations. However, its highest concentration is in the immature immune cells of the thymus and the mature CD-8 T lymphocytes. The significant role of vitamin D compounds as selective immunosuppressants is illustrated by their ability to either prevent or markedly suppress animal models of autoimmune disease. Results show that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 can either prevent or markedly suppress experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, type I diabetes, and inflammatory bowel disease. In almost every case, the action of the vitamin D hormone requires that the animals be maintained on a normal or high calcium diet. Possible mechanisms of suppression of these autoimmune disorders by the vitamin D hormone have been presented. The vitamin D hormone stimulates transforming growth factor TGFβ-1 and interleukin 4 (IL-4) production, which in turn may suppress inflammatory T cell activity. In support of this, the vitamin D hormone is unable to suppress a murine model of the human disease multiple sclerosis in IL-4-deficient mice. The results suggest an important role for vitamin D in autoimmune disorders and provide a fertile and interesting area of research that may yield important new therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2579-2585
Number of pages7
JournalFASEB Journal
Volume15
Issue number14
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 22 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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