The Effects of Vitamin D on Immune System and Inflammatory Diseases

Biomolecules. 2021 Nov 3;11(11):1624. doi: 10.3390/biom11111624.


Immune cells, including dendritic cells, macrophages, and T and B cells, express the vitamin D receptor and 1α-hydroxylase. In vitro studies have shown that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, the active form of vitamin D, has an anti-inflammatory effect. Recent epidemiological evidence has indicated a significant association between vitamin D deficiency and an increased incidence, or aggravation, of infectious diseases and inflammatory autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, and multiple sclerosis. However, the impact of vitamin D on treatment and prevention, particularly in infectious diseases such as the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19), remains controversial. Here, we review recent evidence associated with the relationship between vitamin D and inflammatory diseases and describe the underlying immunomodulatory effect of vitamin D.

Keywords: COVID-19; immune system; multiple sclerosis (MS); rheumatoid arthritis (RA); systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE); vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / drug therapy
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / prevention & control
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy
  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • COVID-19 / prevention & control*
  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy*
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / drug therapy
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / prevention & control
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Monocytes / immunology
  • Multiple Sclerosis / drug therapy
  • Multiple Sclerosis / prevention & control
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / physiology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • VDR protein, human
  • Vitamin D