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Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2012 Dec 15;303(12):G1299-311. doi: 10.1152/ajpgi.00320.2012. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Active vitamin D (1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3) increases host susceptibility to Citrobacter rodentium by suppressing mucosal Th17 responses.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Division of Gastroenterology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


Vitamin D deficiency affects more that 1 billion people worldwide and is associated with an increased risk of developing a number of inflammatory/autoimmune diseases, including inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). At present, the basis for the impact of vitamin D on IBD and mucosal immune responses is unclear; however, IBD is known to reflect exaggerated immune responses to luminal bacteria, and vitamin D has been shown to play a role in regulating bacteria-host interactions. Therefore, to test the effect of active vitamin D on host responses to enteric bacteria, we gave 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) to mice infected with the bacterial pathogen Citrobacter rodentium, an extracellular microbe that causes acute colitis characterized by a strong Th1/Th17 immune response. 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) treatment of infected mice led to increased pathogen burdens and exaggerated tissue pathology. In association with their increased susceptibility, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3)-treated mice showed substantially reduced numbers of Th17 T cells within their infected colons, whereas only modest differences were noted in Th1 and Treg numbers. In accordance with the impaired Th17 responses, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3)-treated mice showed defects in their production of the antimicrobial peptide REG3γ. Taken together, these studies show that 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) suppresses Th17 T-cell responses in vivo and impairs mucosal host defense against an enteric bacterial pathogen.

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