Vitamin D and Bronchial Asthma: An Overview of Data From the Past 5 Years

Clin Ther. 2017 May;39(5):917-929. doi: 10.1016/j.clinthera.2017.04.002. Epub 2017 Apr 25.


Purpose: Vitamin D is a potent immunomodulator capable of dampening inflammatory signals in several cell types involved in the asthmatic response. Its deficiency has been associated with increased inflammation, exacerbations, and overall poor outcomes in patients with asthma. Given the increase in the prevalence of asthma over the past few decades, there has been enormous interest in the use of vitamin D supplementation as a potential therapeutic option. Here, we critically reviewed the most recent findings from in vitro studies, animal models, and clinical trials regarding the role of vitamin D in treating bronchial asthma.

Methods: Using the key terms [Vitamin D, asthma, clinical trials, in vivo and in vitro studies], the [PubMed, Google Scholar] databases were searched for [clinical trials, original research articles, meta-analyses, and reviews], English-language articles published from [2012] to the present. Articles that were [Articles that did not meet these criteria were excluded] excluded from the analysis.

Findings: Several studies have found that low serum levels of vitamin D (< 20 ng/mL) are associated with increased exacerbations, increased airway inflammation, decreased lung function, and poor prognosis in asthmatic patients. Results from in vitro and in vivo studies in animals and humans have suggested that supplementation with vitamin D may ameliorate several hallmark features of asthma. However, the findings obtained from clinical trials are controversial and do not unequivocally support a beneficial role of vitamin D in asthma. Largely, interventional studies in children, pregnant women, and adults have primarily found little to no effect of vitamin D supplementation on improved asthma symptoms, onset, or progression of the disease. This could be related to the severity of the disease process and other confounding factors.

Implications: Despite the conflicting data obtained from clinical trials, vitamin D deficiency may influence the inflammatory response in the airways. Further studies are needed to determine the exact mechanisms by which vitamin D supplementation may induce antiinflammatory effects.

Keywords: asthma; clinical trials; immunomodulation; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Asthma* / blood
  • Asthma* / drug therapy
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Humans
  • Vitamin D* / blood
  • Vitamin D* / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D* / therapeutic use
  • Vitamins* / blood
  • Vitamins* / pharmacology
  • Vitamins* / therapeutic use


  • Vitamins
  • Vitamin D