Waleed M. Abuzeid; Nadeem A. Akbar; Mark A. Zacharek


Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2012;12(1):13-17. 

In This Article

Vitamin D and Cathelicidin

Vitamin D also influences the immune response through the regulation of cathelicidin, which is the only antimicrobial peptide produced by humans.[11] Cathelicidin is produced by neutrophils, macrophages, and the cells lining the epithelial surfaces of the skin, respiratory tract, and gastrointestinal tract – the sites which are constantly exposed to potential pathogens[10••] (Fig. 2).

Figure 2.

Vitamin D stimulates innate immunity and enhances antimicrobial activity via interaction with vitamin D receptor to upregulate the synthesis of the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin. Reproduced with permission from [6].

Cathelicidin has a broad antimicrobial activity against Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, as well as certain viruses and fungi. Vitamin D treatment upregulated cathelicidin mRNA in several cell lines and primary cultures including keratinocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages.[12] Vitamin D levels were also found to be significantly lower in patients in the intensive care unit with sepsis when compared with healthy controls. In these patients, serum vitamin D directly correlated with serum cathelicidin, suggesting that systemic levels of cathelicidin may be regulated by vitamin D status, and that this may be important in the control of infections such as in CRS.[13]


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