Experimental allergic encephalomyelitis (EAE) is a Th1 cell-mediated autoimmune disease model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Vitamin D deficiency is commonly observed in MS patients and vitamin D supplements reduce the clinical symptoms of EAE and MS. Earlier studies have shown that in vivo treatment with vitamin D analogs ameliorates EAE in association with the inhibition of IL-12 production and Th1 differentiation. The mechanisms in the regulation of Th1 response by vitamin D in EAE/MS are, however, not known. We show that in vivo treatment of C57BL/6 and SJL/J mice (i.p.) with 100 ng of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3, on every other day from Day 0-30, ameliorates EAE in association with the inhibition of IL-12 production and neural antigen-specific Th1 response. In vitro treatment with 1,25(OH)2D3 inhibited IFNgamma-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of STAT1, without affecting JAK2, in EOC-20 microglial cells. Treatment of activated T cells with 1,25(OH)2D3 also inhibited the IL-12-induced tyrosine phosphorylation of JAK2, TYK2, STAT3, and STAT4 in association with a decrease in T cell proliferation in vitro. These findings highlight the fact that vitamin D modulates JAK-STAT signaling pathway in IL-12/IFNgamma axis leading to Th1 differentiation and further suggest its use in the treatment of MS and other Th1 cell-mediated autoimmune diseases.
Copyright 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.