Immunomodulatory effect of vitamin D and its potential role in the prevention and treatment of thyroid autoimmunity: a narrative review

J Endocrinol Invest. 2020 Apr;43(4):413-429. doi: 10.1007/s40618-019-01123-5. Epub 2019 Oct 4.


The main role of vitamin D is to control mineral homeostasis. However, recent studies suggested the existence of a number of extraskeletal effects. Among the latter, preclinical studies provided consistent data on the involvement of vitamin D in innate and adaptive immunity and autoimmunity. Molecular biology studies showed that both vitamin D receptor and vitamin D enzymatic complexes are expressed in a large number of cells and tissues unrelated to mineral homeostasis. In contrast, only a few randomized clinical trials in humans investigated the possible role of vitamin D in the prevention or treatment of immunological disorders. In this regard, low serum vitamin D levels have been reported in observational trials in human autoimmune disorders. The aim of the present paper was to review the potential implications of vitamin D in immune modulation, with special focus on thyroid autoimmune disorders.

Keywords: Autoimmunity; Graves’ diseases; Hashimoto’s thyroiditis; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / prevention & control
  • Autoimmunity / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Thyroid Diseases / blood
  • Thyroid Diseases / drug therapy
  • Thyroid Diseases / immunology*
  • Thyroid Diseases / prevention & control
  • Thyroid Gland / drug effects
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*


  • Vitamin D