Vitamin D, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease

Arch Biochem Biophys. 2012 Jul 1;523(1):103-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Nov 10.


It has now been more than 20years since the vitamin D receptor was identified in cells of the immune system. The immune system has now been established as an important target of vitamin D. Vitamin D receptor knockout and vitamin D deficient mice have a surplus of effector T cells that have been implicated in the pathology of multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The active form of vitamin D directly and indirectly suppresses the function of these pathogenic T cells while inducing several regulatory T cells that suppress MS and IBD development. There is reason to believe that vitamin D could be an environmental factor that may play a role in the development of these immune mediated diseases in the clinic but at present there has not been a causal relationship established. Nonetheless, current evidence suggests that improving vitamin D status and/or using vitamin D receptor agonists may be useful in MS and IBD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / genetics
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / immunology
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / metabolism
  • Environment
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / genetics
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases* / metabolism
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / genetics
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis* / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Vitamin D* / metabolism


  • Vitamin D