, Volume 38, Issue 2-3, pp 169-177
Date: 20 Jun 2009

Mycobacterium Tuberculosis, Autoimmunity, and Vitamin D

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Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Current anti-TB chemotherapies, although effective, are associated with side effects and are limited in treating drug-resistant strands. Autoimmune diseases are a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, with a growing mass of evidence implicating infections (e.g., TB) as their triggers. The burden of TB might further increase by reactivation threats hovering over millions harboring latent infection, thus, calling for novel approaches for this dire ailment. In recent years, the non-calcemic physiological actions of vitamin D have drawn a great deal of attention. In this review, we will focus on the role of vitamin D in the innate immune defense against TB on the one hand and conversely on the immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D on autoimmunity. Taken together, the suggested dual role of vitamin D in treating TB infection and possibly preventing associated autoimmunity will constitute the basis of the current review.

This review utilized the PubMed database; references from relevant articles; and the WHO website for identification of relevant data. Key search terms included “tuberculosis,” “vitamin D,” “vitamin D deficiency,” “autoimmune disease,” “epidemiology,” and “innate immunity.” English language papers were reviewed.
Yehuda Schoenfield is an incumbent of the Laura Schwarz-Kip Chair for Research of Autoimmune Diseases.