Vitamin D signaling in immune-mediated disorders: Evolving insights and therapeutic opportunities

Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec;29(6):376-87. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 Jul 14.


1,25(OH)(2)D(3), the active form of vitamin D, is a central player in calcium and bone metabolism. More recently, important immunomodulatory effects have been attributed to this hormone. The widespread presence of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the immune system and the expression of the enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the active 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) regulated by specific immune signals, even suggest a paracrine immunomodulatory role for 1,25(OH)(2)D(3). Additionally, the different molecular mechanisms used by 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) to exert its immunomodulatory effects prove of a broad action radius for this compound. Both, the effects of vitamin D deficiency and/or absence of the VDR as well as intervention with pharmacological doses of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) or one of its less-calcemic analogs, affects immune system behavior in different animal models of immune-mediated disorders, such as type 1 diabetes. This review aims to summarize the data as they stand at the present time on the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders, with special focus on type 1 diabetes, and on the therapeutic opportunities for vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of this autoimmune disease in mouse models and humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immune System Diseases / drug therapy
  • Immune System Diseases / immunology*
  • Immune System Diseases / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Hormones
  • Vitamin D