Background: Vitamin D has immunomodulatory properties, such as regulation of FOXP3 expression and regulatory T-cell activity. Our aim was to investigate whether plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentrations associate with the development of β-cell autoimmunity and the transcriptional activity of FOXP3 or vitamin D3 convertase gene (CYP27B1) in CD4+ memory T cells.
Methods: We studied 83 Finnish and 32 Estonian children participating in the DIABIMMUNE and DIPP studies. Twenty-nine Finnish and six Estonian children tested positive for at least one diabetes-associated autoantibody. The plasma concentrations of 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)₂D were analysed with an enzyme immunoassay. Gene expression of FOXP3 and CYP27B1 in the isolated CD4+ memory T cells was studied with reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Vitamin D status did not differ between subjects positive and negative for β-cell autoantibodies. Finnish children had higher vitamin D status than Estonian children (p < 0.001). FOXP3 expression was higher in Estonian CD4+ memory T-cell samples than in Finnish samples (p < 0.01) even when including in both groups only children with serum 25(OH)D concentrations in the range of 50-80 nmol/L (p < 0.001).
Conclusions: These findings do not support a crucial role of circulating 25(OH)D as a regulator of β-cell autoimmunity or FOXP3 expression.
Keywords: T cells; Vitamin D; autoimmunity; beta-cell; immunoregulation.
Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.