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Arch Biochem Biophys. 1993 May 15;303(1):98-106.

Vitamin D deficiency suppresses cell-mediated immunity in vivo.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison 53706.


Severe vitamin D deficiency has been produced in mice as evidenced by severe hypocalcemia and an absence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in blood. Vitamin D deficiency was accompanied by a slight decrease in body weight and food consumption. Vitamin D-deficient and vitamin D-sufficient mice were sensitized with dinitrofluorobenzene (DNFB). Sensitivity to DNFB was determined by treatment of one ear with DNFB. The ratio of thickness of the treated ear to that of nontreated ear was used as an index of cell-mediated immune reaction. The incorporation of [3H]thymidine into the DNA of the ear was also used as an index of cell-mediated immunity as was the response of thymus lymphocytes to concanavalin A. Vitamin D deficiency markedly decreased the ear thickness ratio and the [3H]thymidine incorporation ratio in DNFB-sensitized mice. Similarly, the incorporation of [3H]thymidine into the DNA of concanavalin A-treated thymus lymphocytes from DNFB-sensitive mice was significantly reduced in vitamin D deficiency. These results show that in vivo vitamin D deficiency impairs cell-mediated immunity. The provision of a vitamin D-sufficient diet for 8 weeks corrected the impaired response of the immune system, while vitamin D administration for 3 weeks did not.

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