Beyond its critical function in calcium homeostasis, vitamin D has recently been found to play an important role in the modulation of the immune/inflammation system via regulating the production of inflammatory cytokines and inhibiting the proliferation of proinflammatory cells, both of which are crucial for the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases. Several studies have associated lower vitamin D status with increased risk and unfavorable outcome of acute infections. Vitamin D supplementation bolsters clinical responses to acute infection. Moreover, chronic inflammatory diseases, such as atherosclerosis-related cardiovascular disease, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, chronic kidney disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and others, tend to have lower vitamin D status, which may play a pleiotropic role in the pathogenesis of the diseases. In this article, we review recent epidemiological and interventional studies of vitamin D in various inflammatory diseases. The potential mechanisms of vitamin D in regulating immune/inflammatory responses in inflammatory diseases are also discussed.
Keywords: asthma; atherosclerosis; chronic kidney disease; inflammatory bowel disease.