Modulation of the immune system by UV radiation: more than just the effects of vitamin D?

Nat Rev Immunol. 2011 Aug 19;11(9):584-96. doi: 10.1038/nri3045.


Humans obtain most of their vitamin D through the exposure of skin to sunlight. The immunoregulatory properties of vitamin D have been demonstrated in studies showing that vitamin D deficiency is associated with poor immune function and increased disease susceptibility. The benefits of moderate ultraviolet (UV) radiation exposure and the positive latitude gradients observed for some immune-mediated diseases may therefore reflect the activities of UV-induced vitamin D. Alternatively, other mediators that are induced by UV radiation may be more important for UV-mediated immunomodulation. Here, we compare and contrast the effects of UV radiation and vitamin D on immune function in immunopathological diseases, such as psoriasis, multiple sclerosis and asthma, and during infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Immune System / radiation effects*
  • Mice
  • Multiple Sclerosis / immunology
  • Psoriasis / immunology
  • Skin / immunology
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Sunlight
  • Ultraviolet Rays*
  • Vitamin D* / biosynthesis
  • Vitamin D* / metabolism
  • Vitamin D* / pharmacology


  • Vitamin D