Role of vitamin D3 in selected pulmonary diseases with particular emphasis on lung fibrosis

Ann Agric Environ Med. 2023 Mar 31;30(1):31-44. doi: 10.26444/aaem/161583. Epub 2023 Mar 2.


Introduction and objective: For many years vitamin D3 was known only as a regulator of the calcium-phosphate and water-electrolyte balances. Recent studies have paid special attention to other biological effects of calcitriol (the bioactive form of vitamin D3) with particular emphasis on its influence on immune function. Thus, any alterations, especially deficiencies, in the physiological level of calcitriol have serious health consequences. The aim of the study was to summarise the current state of knowledge concerning the role of vitamin D3 in selected pulmonary diseases.

Review methods: The review was based on data obtained from articles published in PubMed between 2000-2022. Papers were reviewed for scientific merit and relevance.

Brief description of the state of knowledge: In the reviewed literature, much attention was paid to clinical studies focused on the role of vitamin D3 in the pathogenesis of selected respiratory diseases. As revealed in research over the last two decades, vitamin D3 deficiency increases the risk and worsens the course of asthma, cystic fibrosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, as well as COVID-19. Surprisingly, vitamin D supplementation has not always proved to be an effective therapeutic strategy. The review also presents the unique concept of the possibility of using vitamin D3 in the prevention and treatment of pulmonary fibrosis in the course of hypersensitivity pneumonitis.

Summary: Due to the multiplicity and variety of factors that affect the metabolism of vitamin D3, effective counteracting, and even more eliminating the negative consequences of disorders in the level and activity of calcitriol in the respiratory tract, seems to be a breakneck action. On the other hand, only a deep understanding of the role of calcitriol in the pathogenesis of lung diseases provides the chance to develop an effective therapy.

Keywords: COVID-19; asthma; calcidiol; calcitriol; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; cystic fibrosis; hypersensitivity pneumonitis; idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis; sarcoidosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Calcitriol / therapeutic use
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology
  • Cholecalciferol / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis* / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency* / genetics


  • Cholecalciferol
  • Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D