Vitamin D for infections

Curr Opin Endocrinol Diabetes Obes. 2014 Dec;21(6):431-6. doi: 10.1097/MED.0000000000000108.


Purpose of review: Current data clearly support an interaction of vitamin D with cells of the immune system apart from its regulatory role in calcium homeostasis. The discovery that immune cells express the vitamin D receptor and are capable of metabolizing circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D into its active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, has revolutionized the field and suggested a regulatory role on both the innate and adaptive immune systems.

Recent findings: Of particular interest with respect to infectious diseases, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D has been shown to trigger the production of antimicrobial peptides with a direct pathogen-killing capacity. Interestingly, pathogen-derived components influence the key players in the vitamin D metabolizing pathway, further supporting such an interaction.

Summary: Here, we review the potential mechanisms of vitamin D in promoting the innate immune response against infectious agents and discuss the possible implications for such a response in the prevention of or the intervention in various infectious diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / drug effects
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control
  • Calcitriol / deficiency
  • Calcitriol / physiology
  • Calcitriol / therapeutic use*
  • Communicable Diseases / drug therapy
  • Communicable Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / drug effects
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / immunology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Signal Transduction / immunology*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / immunology*
  • Vitamins / therapeutic use


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcitriol