Vitamin D endocrine system and the immune response in rheumatic diseases

Vitam Horm. 2011:86:327-51. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-386960-9.00014-9.


Epidemiological evidence indicates a significant association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased incidence of autoimmune diseases. The presence of vitamin D receptors (VDRs) in the cells of the immune system and the fact that several of these cells produce the vitamin D hormone suggested that vitamin D could have immunoregulatory properties, and now potent immunomodulatory activities on dendritic cells, Th1 and Th17 cells, as well as B cells have been confirmed. Serum levels of vitamin D have been found to be significantly lower in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus, undifferentiated connective tissue disease, and type-1 diabetes mellitus than in the healthy population. In addition, it was also found that lower levels of vitamin D were associated with higher disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis. Promising clinical results together with evidence for the regulation of multiple immunomodulatory mechanisms by VDR agonists represent a sound basis for further exploration of their potential in the treatment of rheumatic autoimmune disorders.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antirheumatic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Endocrine System / physiology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / epidemiology
  • Endocrine System Diseases / immunology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / therapy
  • Humans
  • Immunity*
  • Immunomodulation
  • Psoriasis / epidemiology
  • Psoriasis / immunology
  • Psoriasis / therapy
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Rheumatic Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rheumatic Diseases / immunology*
  • Rheumatic Diseases / therapy
  • Vitamin D / physiology*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Antirheumatic Agents
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D