Vitamin D and the anti-viral state

J Clin Virol. 2011 Mar;50(3):194-200. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2010.12.006. Epub 2011 Jan 15.


Vitamin D has long been recognized as essential to the skeletal system. Newer evidence suggests that it also plays a major role regulating the immune system, perhaps including immune responses to viral infection. Interventional and observational epidemiological studies provide evidence that vitamin D deficiency may confer increased risk of influenza and respiratory tract infection. Vitamin D deficiency is also prevalent among patients with HIV infection. Cell culture experiments support the thesis that vitamin D has direct anti-viral effects particularly against enveloped viruses. Though vitamin D's anti-viral mechanism has not been fully established, it may be linked to vitamin D's ability to up-regulate the anti-microbial peptides LL-37 and human beta defensin 2. Additional studies are necessary to fully elucidate the efficacy and mechanism of vitamin D as an anti-viral agent.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides / immunology
  • Cathelicidins
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • beta-Defensins / immunology


  • Antimicrobial Cationic Peptides
  • beta-Defensins
  • Vitamin D
  • Cathelicidins