The complex role of vitamin D in autoimmune diseases

Scand J Immunol. 2008 Sep;68(3):261-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3083.2008.02127.x. Epub 2008 May 29.


Vitamin D, besides having well-known control functions of calcium and phosphorus metabolism, bone formation and mineralization, also has a role in the maintenance of immune-homeostasis. The immune-regulatory role of vitamin D affects both the innate and adaptive immune system contributing to the immune-tolerance of self-structures. Impaired vitamin D supply/regulation, amongst other factors, leads to the development of autoimmune processes in animal models of various autoimmune diseases. The administration of vitamin D in these animals leads to improvement of immune-mediated symptoms. Moreover, in human autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, or rheumatoid arthritis the pathogenic role of vitamin D has been described. The review aims at describing the complex immune-regulatory role of vitamin D from the cellular level through autoimmune animal models and depicting the known contribution of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of human autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diet therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Active
  • Immunity, Innate
  • Mice
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D