Vitamin D: emerging roles in infection and immunity

Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2010 Dec;8(12):1359-69. doi: 10.1586/eri.10.102.


In the preantibiotic era, TB of the skin was treated successfully with UV light. By the 1920s, pulmonary TB was being treated with regular sun exposure. During the last decade, basic laboratory research into the antimicrobial actions of vitamin D has provided new insights into these historical observations. Vitamin D has a critical role in the innate immune system through the production of antimicrobial peptides - particularly cathelicidin. Vitamin D would appear to have an important role in respiratory tract, skin and potentially gut health. A number of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis, Type I diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis, are associated with vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D could have an important role in the prevention and possible treatment of these conditions; however, much of the current evidence relates to basic science and epidemiological research. In many situations, appropriate double-blind, randomized controlled trial data to guide clinicians treating infectious and autoimmune disease is still lacking.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity* / drug effects
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / immunology
  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / metabolism
  • Autoimmune Diseases / metabolism*
  • Biofilms / growth & development
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Ergocalciferols / immunology
  • Ergocalciferols / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate* / drug effects
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Ultraviolet Rays
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / prevention & control


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • Ergocalciferols
  • Vitamin D
  • Nitric Oxide