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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2005 Sep;116(3):683-9.

Interactions of 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 with IL-12 and IL-4 on cytokine expression of human T lymphocytes.

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  • 1Department of Pathophysiology, Medical University of Vienna, Austria.



1 alpha,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1 alpha,25[OH](2)D(3)) exerts its effects on the immune system, particularly through suppression of T helper/cytotoxic cell 1 (T(H)/T(C)1)-mediated reactions, although direct actions of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) on human T lymphocytes have not yet been studied in detail.


We evaluated the effect of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) on basal and cytokine-driven T-cell functions at the single-cell level.


We used 4-color flow cytometry for simultaneous detection of intracellular cytokines in CD4(+) and CD8(+) human PBMCs that had been cultured in the presence of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) singly or in combination with either IL-12 or IL-4. According to the exploratory nature of these investigations, the Bonferroni correction was not applied for data analysis and presentation.


1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) had little effect on T(H)/T(C)1 cytokines but significantly inhibited IL-12-induced IFN-gamma production. Constitutive synthesis of T(H)/T(C)2-related cytokines was also only modestly affected by 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) alone. When T(H)/T(C)2 differentiation was induced by IL-4, 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) significantly expanded the percentages of IL-4(+) and IL-13(+) cells. However, the predominant effect of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) on T lymphocytes, particularly in the presence of IL-4, was the induction of separate CD4(+) and CD8(+) subpopulations with almost exclusive expression of IL-6. This might be an important facet of the immunomodulatory action of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) because IL-6 might act in parallel with 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) in modulation of T(H)/T(C) effector cell functions.


Our data imply that the specific actions of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D(3) on cytokine-stimulated T-cell functions could play a role in the prevention of T(H)/T(C)1-related autoimmune diseases but also predispose toward T(H)/T(C)2-mediated allergic reactions.

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