Immunological effects of vitamin D and their relations to autoimmunity

J Autoimmun. 2019 Jun;100:7-16. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2019.03.002. Epub 2019 Mar 8.


Vitamin D deficiency is an established risk factor for many autoimmune diseases and the anti-inflammatory properties of vitamin D underscore its potential therapeutic value for these diseases. However, results of vitamin D3 supplementation clinical trials have been varied. To understand the clinical heterogeneity, we reviewed the pre-clinical data on vitamin D activity in four common autoimmune diseases: multiple sclerosis (MS), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), in which patients are commonly maintained on oral vitamin D3 supplementation. In contrast, many pre-clinical studies utilize other methods of manipulation (i.e. genetic, injection). Given the many actions of vitamin D3 and data supporting a vitamin D-independent role of the Vitamin D receptor (VDR), a more detailed mechanistic understanding of vitamin D3 activity is needed to properly translate pre-clinical findings into the clinic. Therefore, we assessed studies based on route of vitamin D3 administration, and identified where discrepancies in results exist and where more research is needed to establish the benefit of vitamin D supplementation.

Keywords: Autoimmune colitis; Autoimmune disease; Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis; Rheumatoid arthritis; Systemic lupus erythematosus; Vitamin D.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases* / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / immunology
  • Autoimmune Diseases* / pathology
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / immunology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / immunology
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / pathology


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Cholecalciferol