Mechanisms underlying the effect of vitamin D on the immune system

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Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) have been shown to be important regulators of the immune system. In particular, vitamin D and VDR deficiency exacerbates experimental autoimmune diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD develops due to an immune-mediated attack by pathogenic T-cells that overproduce IL-17 and IFN- and a few regulatory cells. VDR knockout mice have twice as many T-cells making IL-17 and IFN- than wild-type mice. In addition, vitamin D and the VDR are required for normal numbers of regulatory T-cells (iNKT and CD8) that have been shown to suppress experimental IBD. In the absence of vitamin D and the VDR, autoimmunity occurs in the gastrointestinal tract due to increased numbers of IL-17 and IFN- secreting T-cells and a concomitant reduction in regulatory T-cells.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)286-289
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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