1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3--a hormone with immunomodulatory properties

Z Rheumatol. 2000:59 Suppl 1:24-7. doi: 10.1007/s003930070034.


The active vitamin D metabolite, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3[1,25-(OH)2D3], exerts immunosuppressive activity. At a cellular and molecular level, the hormone preferentially targets helper T cell activity (Th1) by inhibiting the secretion of both IL-2 and IFN-gamma by Th1 and by suppressing the secretion pro-Th1 cytokine IL-12 by antigen-presenting cells. The active metabolite further inhibits class II antigen expression and enhances suppressor cell activity. In animal models of autoimmunity, 1,25-(OH)2D3 prevents the development of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, reduces the incidence of diabetes, and attenuates murine lupus. The hormone also prolongs graft survival in animal models of transplantation. In humans, non-classical use of 1,25-(OH)2D3 has led to an anti-proliferative effect in psoriasis, antineoplastic effect in prostate cancer, and immunomodulatory effect in scleroderma. The development of less hypercalcemic analogs might open a new therapeutic area for vitamin D3.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Calcitriol / adverse effects
  • Calcitriol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance / drug effects
  • Immune Tolerance / immunology
  • Interferon-gamma / blood
  • Interleukin-12 / blood
  • Interleukin-2 / blood
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes, Regulatory / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / drug effects
  • Th1 Cells / immunology


  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-12
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Calcitriol