The role of vitamin D and vitamin D receptor in immunity to Leishmania major infection

James P. Whitcomb, Mary Deagostino, Mark Ballentine, Jun Fu, Martin Tenniswood, Joellen Welsh, Margherita Cantorna, Mary Ann McDowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Vitamin D signaling modulates a variety of immune responses. Here, we assessed the role of vitamin D in immunity to experimental leishmaniasis infection in vitamin D receptor-deficient mice (VDRKO). We observed that VDRKO mice on a genetically resistant background have decreased Leishmania major-induced lesion development compared to wild-type (WT) mice; additionally, parasite loads in infected dermis were significantly lower at the height of infection. Enzymatic depletion of the active form of vitamin D mimics the ablation of VDR resulting in an increased resistance to L. major. Conversely, VDRKO or vitamin D-deficient mice on the susceptible Th2-biased background had no change in susceptibility. These studies indicate vitamin D deficiency, either through the ablation of VDR or elimination of its ligand, 1,25D3, leads to an increase resistance to L. major infection but only in a host that is predisposed for Th-1 immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number134645
JournalJournal of Parasitology Research
StatePublished - 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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