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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jan 14;286(2):997-1004. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.163790. Epub 2010 Nov 3.

Lineage-specific effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) on the development of effector CD4 T cells.

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Department of Pathology, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama 35294, USA.


Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in autoimmune disease. We therefore evaluated the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25-D(3)), the active form of vitamin D, on the development of T helper 1 (Th1), Th17, and Th9 cells, which are implicated in the pathogenesis of different types of autoimmunity. 1,25-D(3) compromised the development of Th17 and Th9 cells, including IL-22-expressing cells while simultaneously increasing the frequency of IL-10-competent cells. Relative to Th17 and Th9 cells, the effects of 1,25-D(3) on Th1 cells were modest, reflecting the significantly reduced levels of the receptor for vitamin D in this lineage. The use of cells deficient in IL-10 or antibodies that block IL-10 signaling abolished the inhibitory effect of 1,25-D(3) on Th9 cells but had no effect on inhibition of Th17 cell frequencies. Thus, the induction of IL-10 in cultures of Th9 cells is an important mechanism by which 1,25-D(3) compromises Th9 development but does not explain inhibition of Th17 cells. A survey of select representatives of the Th17 transcriptome revealed that the levels of mRNA that encode RORγt, IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-23R, and IL-22, were reduced by 1,25-D(3), whereas IL-21 and aryl hydrocarbon receptor mRNA remained unchanged. These data suggest that vitamin D deficiency may promote autoimmunity by favoring the inordinate production of Th17 and Th9 cells at the expense of regulatory IL-10-producing T cells.

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