Modulation of inflammatory and immune responses by vitamin D

J Autoimmun. 2017 Dec:85:78-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2017.07.007. Epub 2017 Jul 18.


Vitamin D (VitD) is a prohormone most noted for the regulation of calcium and phosphate levels in circulation, and thus of bone metabolism. Inflammatory and immune cells not only convert inactive VitD metabolites into calcitriol, the active form of VitD, but also express the nuclear receptor of VitD that modulates differentiation, activation and proliferation of these cells. In vitro, calcitriol upregulates different anti-inflammatory pathways and downregulates molecules that activate immune and inflammatory cells. Administration of VitD has beneficial effects in a number of experimental models of autoimmune disease. Epidemiologic studies have indicated that VitD insufficiency is frequently associated with immune disorders and infectious diseases, exacerbated by increasing evidence of suboptimal VitD status in populations worldwide. To date, however, most interventional studies in human inflammatory and immune diseases with VitD supplementation have proven to be inconclusive. One of the reasons could be that the main VitD metabolite measured in these studies was the 25-hydroxyVitD (25OHD) rather than its active form calcitriol. Although our knowledge of calcitriol as modulator of immune and inflammatory reactions has dramatically increased in the past decades, further in vivo and clinical studies are needed to confirm the potential benefits of VitD in the control of immune and inflammatory conditions.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Calciferol; Inflammation; Vitamin D; Vitamin D receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Immunity / drug effects*
  • Immunity / immunology
  • Inflammation / immunology
  • Inflammation / prevention & control*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D / immunology*


  • Vitamin D