Vitamin D Axis in Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: Role, Current Uses and Future Perspectives

Int J Mol Sci. 2017 Nov 7;18(11):2360. doi: 10.3390/ijms18112360.


Increasing evidence supports the concept that the vitamin D axis possesses immunoregulatory functions, with vitamin D receptor (VDR) status representing the major determinant of vitamin D's pleiotropic effects. Vitamin D promotes the production of anti-microbial peptides, including β-defensins and cathelicidins, the shift towards Th2 immune responses, and regulates autophagy and epithelial barrier integrity. Impairment of vitamin D-mediated pathways are associated with chronic inflammatory conditions, including inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Interestingly, inhibition of vitamin D pathways results in dysbiosis of the gut microbiome, which has mechanistically been implicated in the development of IBD. Herein, we explore the role of the vitamin D axis in immune-mediated diseases, with particular emphasis on its interplay with the gut microbiome in the pathogenesis of IBD. The potential clinical implications and therapeutic relevance of this interaction will also be discussed, including optimizing VDR function, both with vitamin D analogues and probiotics, which may represent a complementary approach to current IBD treatments.

Keywords: analogs of vitamin D; dysbiosis; intracellular signaling; regulation of immune system; vitamin D metabolism; vitamin D receptor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D