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Cytokine. 2011 Aug;55(2):294-300. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2011.04.016. Epub 2011 May 17.

Vitamin D(3) down-regulates proinflammatory cytokine response to Mycobacterium tuberculosis through pattern recognition receptors while inducing protective cathelicidin production.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Laboratory Medical Immunology, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.


A well-known association between vitamin D(3) and infection with Mycobacterium tuberculosis has previously been reported, but little is known regarding the underlying mechanisms. We have investigated how 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3)] affects the proinflammatory cytokine production induced by M. tuberculosis. Furthermore, we explored whether 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) influence the production of the protective antimycobacterial peptide cathelicidin. Upon in vitro stimulation with M. tuberculosis, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) induced a dose-dependent down-regulation of IL-6, TNFα and IFNγ, while increasing the production of IL-10 in culture supernatant as well as cathelicidin mRNA expression. This effect on cytokine response was not due to modulation of T-helper cell differentiation, as T-bet, GATA3, Foxp3 and ROR-γt mRNA expression remained unaffected. Similarly, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) did not affect suppressor of cytokine signaling (SOCS)1 and SOCS3 mRNA expression. The mechanism whereby 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) inhibited the proinflammatory cytokine response was through reduced expression of the pattern recognition receptors (PRR) - TLR2, TLR4, Dectin-1 and mannose receptor, whose mRNA and protein expression were both reduced. The suppression of PRRs could be restored by a VDR antagonist. Upon M. tuberculosis stimulation, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) modulates the balance in cytokine production towards an anti-inflammatory profile by repression of TLR2, TLR4, Dectin-1 and mannose receptor expression, while increasing cathelicidin production. These two effects may have beneficial consequences, by reducing the collateral tissue damage induced by proinflammatory cytokines, while the antibacterial effects of cathelicidin are enhanced.

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