Journal of Molecular Medicine

, Volume 88, Issue 5, pp 441-450

First online:

Vitamin D and molecular actions on the immune system: modulation of innate and autoimmunity

  • Diane L. KamenAffiliated withDivision of Rheumatology, Department of Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina
  • , Vin TangprichaAffiliated withDivision of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipids, Department of Medicine, Emory University School of MedicineNutrition Health Sciences Program, Graduate Division of Biomedical and Biological Sciences, Emory UniversityCenter for Clinical and Molecular Nutrition, Emory University School of Medicine Email author 

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Vitamin D has received increased attention recently for its pleiotropic actions on many chronic diseases. The importance of vitamin D on the regulation of cells of the immune system has gained increased appreciation over the past decade with the discovery of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and key vitamin D metabolizing enzymes expressed by cells of the immune system. Animal studies, early epidemiologic and clinical studies have supported a potential role for vitamin D in maintaining immune system balance. The hormonal form of vitamin D up-regulates anti-microbial peptides, namely cathelicidin, to enhance clearance of bacteria at various barrier sites and in immune cells. Vitamin D modulates the adaptive immune system by direct effects on T cell activation and on the phenotype and function of antigen-presenting cells (APCs), particularly of DCs. The purpose of this manuscript is to review the molecular and clinical evidence for vitamin D as a modulator of the innate and adaptive immune system.


Vitamins Innate immunity Immunology