Vitamin D and the Central Nervous System: Development, Protection, and Disease

  • Samantha Roman
  • Ellen M. MowryEmail author
Part of the Contemporary Endocrinology book series (COE)


Vitamin D is a secosteroid that plays an important role in the central nervous system (CNS). Through binding to the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is found throughout the CNS, 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D3 regulates gene transcription to exert neurotrophic and immunomodulatory effects. As a result of various downstream responses, vitamin D signaling provides neuroprotection, decreasing damage and accelerating recovery from a variety of CNS insults. As a result, a growing body of scientific literature addresses a possible relationship between this steroid, or lack thereof, and a variety of neurodegenerative diseases. In the first sections of this chapter, we will summarize the current understanding of the role vitamin D plays in CNS protection and development. In the latter section, we will examine existing evidence that vitamin D plays a role in neurodegenerative diseases, specifically evaluating if vitamin D availability may modify the risk, prognosis, and treatment outcomes for patients with Parkinson disease, Alzheimer disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, and multiple sclerosis.


Neurology Neurodevelopment Neurodegenerative disease Parkinson disease (PD) Alzheimer disease (AD) Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) Multiple sclerosis (MS) 




Alzheimer disease


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


Blood-brain barrier


Clinically definite multiple sclerosis


Clinically isolated syndrome


Central nervous system


Developmental vitamin D


Myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein


Multiple sclerosis


Neural stem cell


Parkinson disease


Relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis


Secondary progressive multiple sclerosis


Vitamin D receptor


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Johns Hopkins School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA

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