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Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep;92(1):60-4. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Vitamin D and its role in immunology: multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

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Department of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Center for Molecular Immunology and Infectious Diseases, The Pennsylvania State University, 115 Henning Bldg., University Park, PA 16802, USA.


Autoimmune diseases like multiple sclerosis (MS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) occur because of an inappropriate immune-mediated attack against self-tissue. Analyses of genetically identical twins shows that besides genetics there are important environmental factors that contribute to MS and IBD development. Vitamin D availability due to sunshine exposure or diet may play a role in the development of MS and IBD. Compelling data in mice show that vitamin D and signaling through the vitamin D receptor dictate the outcome of experimental MS and IBD. Furthermore, the evidence points to the direct and indirect regulation of T cell development and function by vitamin D. In the absence of vitamin D and signals delivered through the vitamin D receptor, auto reactive T cells develop and in the presence of active vitamin D (1,25(OH)(2)D(3) ) and a functional vitamin D receptor the balance in the T cell response is restored and autoimmunity avoided.

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