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Infect Immun. 2013 Jan;81(1):2-10. doi: 10.1128/IAI.00666-12. Epub 2012 Oct 15.

Vitamin D rescues impaired Mycobacterium tuberculosis-mediated tumor necrosis factor release in macrophages of HIV-seropositive individuals through an enhanced Toll-like receptor signaling pathway in vitro.

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Division of Pulmonary, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis disease represents an enormous global health problem, with exceptionally high morbidity and mortality in HIV-seropositive (HIV(+)) persons. Alveolar macrophages from HIV(+) persons demonstrate specific and targeted impairment of critical host cell responses, including impaired M. tuberculosis-mediated tumor necrosis factor (TNF) release and macrophage apoptosis. Vitamin D may promote anti-M. tuberculosis responses through upregulation of macrophage NO, NADPH oxidase, cathelicidin, and autophagy mechanisms, but whether vitamin D promotes anti-M. tuberculosis mechanisms in HIV(+) macrophages is not known. In the current study, human macrophages exposed to M. tuberculosis demonstrated robust release of TNF, IκB degradation, and NF-κB nuclear translocation, and these responses were independent of vitamin D pretreatment. In marked contrast, HIV(+) U1 human macrophages exposed to M. tuberculosis demonstrated very low TNF release and no significant IκB degradation or NF-κB nuclear translocation, whereas vitamin D pretreatment restored these critical responses. The vitamin D-mediated restored responses were dependent in part on macrophage CD14 expression. Importantly, similar response patterns were observed with clinically relevant human alveolar macrophages from healthy individuals and asymptomatic HIV(+) persons at high clinical risk of M. tuberculosis infection. Taken together with the observation that local bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) levels of vitamin D are severely deficient in HIV(+) persons, the data from this study demonstrate that exogenous vitamin D can selectively rescue impaired critical innate immune responses in vitro in alveolar macrophages from HIV(+) persons at risk for M. tuberculosis disease, supporting a potential role for exogenous vitamin D as a therapeutic adjuvant in M. tuberculosis infection in HIV(+) persons.

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