Regulation of lymphokine production and human T lymphocyte activation by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Specific inhibition at the level of messenger RNA

J Clin Invest. 1987 Jun;79(6):1659-64. doi: 10.1172/JCI113004.


The steroid hormone, 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (calcitriol), has been shown to inhibit T cell proliferation, primarily through inhibition of interleukin 2 (IL-2) production. In these experiments, we show that calcitriol also markedly inhibited production of the lymphokine, gamma interferon (IFN-gamma), by activated human T lymphocytes. Regulation of both IL-2 and IFN-gamma production as well as transferrin receptor (TfR) expression by calcitriol was apparent at the messenger RNA (mRNA) level as determined by Northern blotting. The decrease in IL-2 and IFN-gamma mRNA that occurred with calcitriol treatment was coordinate and not apparent up to 12 h after phytohemagglutinin stimulation, whereas decreased accumulation of TfR mRNA was not present before 24-36 h. Furthermore, the effects of calcitriol on IL-2, IFN-gamma, and TfR mRNA accumulation were specific; actin mRNA accumulation was comparable between control and treated cells. These data indicate that calcitriol regulated proteins associated with T cell activation at the transcriptional level and that these effects were mediated in a specific, coordinate fashion.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Actins / biosynthesis
  • Calcitriol / pharmacology*
  • Depression, Chemical
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis*
  • Interleukin-2 / biosynthesis*
  • Lymphocyte Activation / drug effects*
  • Poly A / biosynthesis*
  • RNA, Messenger / biosynthesis*
  • Receptors, Transferrin / biosynthesis*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Interleukin-2
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Receptors, Transferrin
  • Poly A
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Calcitriol