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Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Mar;223(3):230-3.

Vitamin D and autoimmunity: is vitamin D status an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence?

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Department of Nutrition, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park 16802, USA.


The environment in which the encounter of antigen with the immune system occurs determines whether tolerance, infectious immunity, or autoimmunity results. Geographical areas with low supplies of vitamin D (for example Scandinavia) correlate with regions with high incidences of multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and diabetes. The active form of vitamin D has been shown to suppress the development of autoimmunity in experimental animal models. Furthermore, vitamin D deficiency increases the severity of at least experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (mouse multiple sclerosis). Targets for vitamin D in the immune system have been identified, and the mechanisms of vitamin D-mediated immunoregulation are beginning to be understood. This review discusses the possibility that vitamin D status is an environmental factor, which by shaping the immune system affects the prevalence rate for autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, arthritis, and juvenile diabetes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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