Effects of Vitamin D on Immune Disorders With Special Regard to Asthma, COPD and Autoimmune Diseases

A Short Review

Joseph I Székely; Ágnes Pataki


Expert Rev Resp Med. 2012;6(6):683-704. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


This paper reviews the recent data on the role of vitamin D (VD) in the genesis of various immunological disorders. It inhibits immune reactions in general, but it enhances the transcription of 'endogenous antibiotics' such as cathelicidin and defensins. VD inhibits the genesis of both Th1- and Th2-cell mediated diseases. The pleiotropic character VD-induced effects are due to the altered transcription of hundreds of genes. VD supplementation in most related studies reduced the prevalence of asthma. Th1-dependent autoimmune diseases (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and so on) are also inhibited by VD due to inhibition of antigen presentation, reduced polarization of Th0 cells to Th1 cells and reduced production of cytokines from the latter cells. VD seems to also be a useful adjunct in the prevention of allograft rejection. Last but not least, VD supplementation may be useful in the prevention or adjunct treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.


Over the last few decades, it came to light that vitamin D (VD), besides its well-known functions in bone homeostasis,[1] plays a basic role in the regulation of immune functions. It inhibits carcinogenesis and enhances production of endogenous antimicrobial 'antibiotics'.[2,3] This review deals only with a narrow segment of extra-bone effects of VD, notably with its physiological role in regulation of immune functions.