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Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec;29(6):376-87. doi: 10.1016/j.mam.2008.05.004. Epub 2008 Jul 14.

Vitamin D signaling in immune-mediated disorders: Evolving insights and therapeutic opportunities.

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Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Endocrinology (Legendo), Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


1,25(OH)(2)D(3), the active form of vitamin D, is a central player in calcium and bone metabolism. More recently, important immunomodulatory effects have been attributed to this hormone. The widespread presence of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the immune system and the expression of the enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the active 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) regulated by specific immune signals, even suggest a paracrine immunomodulatory role for 1,25(OH)(2)D(3). Additionally, the different molecular mechanisms used by 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) to exert its immunomodulatory effects prove of a broad action radius for this compound. Both, the effects of vitamin D deficiency and/or absence of the VDR as well as intervention with pharmacological doses of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) or one of its less-calcemic analogs, affects immune system behavior in different animal models of immune-mediated disorders, such as type 1 diabetes. This review aims to summarize the data as they stand at the present time on the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders, with special focus on type 1 diabetes, and on the therapeutic opportunities for vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of this autoimmune disease in mouse models and humans.

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