Modulation of the immune response to respiratory viruses by vitamin D

Nutrients. 2015 May 29;7(6):4240-70. doi: 10.3390/nu7064240.


Background: Vitamin D deficiency has been shown to be independently associated with increased risk of viral acute respiratory infection (ARI) in a number of observational studies, and meta-analysis of clinical trials of vitamin D supplementation for prevention of ARI has demonstrated protective effects. Several cellular studies have investigated the effects of vitamin D metabolites on immune responses to respiratory viruses, but syntheses of these reports are lacking.

Scope: In this article, we review the literature reporting results of in vitro experiments investigating immunomodulatory actions of vitamin D metabolites in human respiratory epithelial cells infected with respiratory viruses.

Key findings: Vitamin D metabolites do not consistently influence replication or clearance of rhinovirus, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or influenza A virus in human respiratory epithelial cell culture, although they do modulate expression and secretion of type 1 interferon, chemokines including CXCL8 and CXCL10 and pro-inflammatory cytokines, such as TNF and IL-6.

Future research: More studies are needed to clarify the effects of vitamin D metabolites on respiratory virus-induced expression of cell surface markers mediating viral entry and bacterial adhesion to respiratory epithelial cells.

Keywords: antiviral immunity; respiratory viruses; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Chemokine CXCL10 / metabolism
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Epithelial Cells / drug effects
  • Epithelial Cells / virology
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / drug effects*
  • Immunomodulation*
  • Influenza A virus / drug effects
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / drug effects
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / drug therapy
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / immunology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Rhinovirus / drug effects
  • Tumor Necrosis Factors / metabolism
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy
  • Virus Diseases / immunology*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy


  • CXCL10 protein, human
  • CXCL8 protein, human
  • Chemokine CXCL10
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Tumor Necrosis Factors
  • Vitamin D