The Vitamin D–antimicrobial Peptide Pathway and Its Role in Protection against Infection

Adrian F Gombart


Future Microbiol. 2009;4(9):1151-1165. 

In This Article

Future Perspective

The future for the sunshine vitamin looks bright. Creative approaches involving animal models, human studies and genomic approaches to identify new targets of the VDR promise to shed even more light on the mechanisms by which vitamin D mediates its beneficial effects. Because vitamin D-mediated regulation of the antimicrobial peptide genes is a human/primate-specific process, it will be important to realize that animal models may not always reflect the human situation. This will require the generation of creative animal models and verification in human systems.

Many epithelial tissues such as the oral mucosa, intestinal tract, skin, urinary tract and reproductive organs are constantly exposed to the environment and the importance of the vitamin D–cathelicidin pathway in providing protection against pathogens in these tissues is already a major focus. Additional studies should reveal just how important vitamin D is in barrier defense of the body.

Considering that most people have insufficient levels of vitamin D and that nearly 1 billion people worldwide are deficient,[129] properly designed supplementation studies in humans will be important for determining the benefits from raising serum levels of vitamin D on immune system function. It will be particularly interesting to determine if sufficient vitamin D levels will aid in treating patients with TB and HIV infection. These are classically deficient populations and vitamin D supplementation could be a potentially cheap adjuvant therapy for these conditions and is particularly attractive for impoverished countries where these diseases are rampant.