Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 256–266 | Cite as

Vitamin D in Systemic and Organ-Specific Autoimmune Diseases

  • Nancy Agmon-Levin
  • Emanuel Theodor
  • Ramit Maoz Segal
  • Yehuda ShoenfeldEmail author


Lately, vitamin D has been linked with metabolic and immunological processes, which established its role as an essential component of human health preservation. Vitamin D has been defined as natural immune modulators, and upon activation of its receptors (VDRs), it regulates calcium metabolism, cellular growth, proliferation and apoptosis, and other immunological functions. Epidemiological data underline a strong correlation between poor vitamin D status and higher risk for chronic inflammatory illnesses of various etiologies, including autoimmune diseases. Epidemiological, genetic, and basic studies indicated a potential role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of certain systemic and organ-specific autoimmune diseases. These studies demonstrate correlation between low vitamin D and prevalence of diseases. In addition, VDRs’ polymorphisms observed in some of these autoimmune diseases may further support a plausible pathogenic link. Notably, for some autoimmune disease, no correlation with vitamin D levels could be confirmed. Thus, in the current review we present the body of evidence regarding the plausible roles of vitamin D and VDR’s polymorphism in the pathogenesis of autoimmunity. We summarize the data regarding systemic (i.e., systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, etc.) and organ-specific (i.e., multiple sclerosis, diabetes mellitus, primary biliary cirrhosis, etc.) autoimmune diseases, in which low level of vitamin D was found comparing to healthy subjects. In addition, we discuss the correlations between vitamin D levels and clinical manifestations and/or activity of diseases. In this context, we address the rational for vitamin D supplementation in patients suffering from autoimmune diseases. Further studies addressing the mechanisms by which vitamin D affects autoimmunity and the proper supplementation required are needed.


Vitamin D Autoimmune diseases Systemic lupus erythematosus Antiphospholipids syndrome Rheumatoid arthritis Autoantibodies Hashimoto Diabetes mellitus Multiple sclerosis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy Agmon-Levin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Emanuel Theodor
    • 1
  • Ramit Maoz Segal
    • 1
  • Yehuda Shoenfeld
    • 1
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.The Zabludowics Center for Autoimmune DiseasesChaim Sheba Medical CenterTel HashomerIsrael
  2. 2.Sackler Faculty of MedicineTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael
  3. 3.Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Incumbent of the Laura Schwartz-Kip Chair for Research of Autoimmune DiseasesTel-Aviv UniversityTel AvivIsrael

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