Shining Light on the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Vitamin D Receptor Checkpoint in Defense of Unregulated Wound Healing

Cell Metab. 2020 Nov 3;32(5):704-709. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2020.09.007. Epub 2020 Sep 11.


SARS-CoV-2 pneumonitis can quickly strike to incapacitate the lung, leading to severe disease and sometimes death. In this perspective, we suggest that vitamin D deficiency and the failure to activate the vitamin D receptor (VDR) can aggravate this respiratory syndrome by igniting a wounding response in stellate cells of the lung. The FDA-approved injectable vitamin D analog, paricalcitol, suppresses stellate cell-derived murine hepatic and pancreatic pro-inflammatory and pro-fibrotic changes. Therefore, we suggest a possible parallel program in the pulmonary stellate cells of COVID-19 patients and propose repurposing paricalcitol infusion therapy to restrain the COVID-19 cytokine storm. This proposed therapy could prove important to people of color who have higher COVID-19 mortality rates and lower vitamin D levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Betacoronavirus*
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Coronavirus Infections / virology
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Drug Repositioning / methods*
  • Ergocalciferols / pharmacology*
  • Ergocalciferols / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / virology
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / agonists*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / epidemiology
  • Wound Healing / drug effects*


  • Cytokines
  • Ergocalciferols
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • VDR protein, human
  • paricalcitol