Vitamin D is a direct and indirect regulator of T cells. The mechanisms by which vitamin D directly regulates T cells are reviewed and new primary data on the effects of 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2
D) on human invariant natural killer (iNK)T cells is presented. The in vivo
effects of vitamin D on murine T cells include inhibition of T cell proliferation, inhibition of IFN-γ, IL-17 and induction of IL-4. Experiments in mice demonstrate that the effectiveness of 1,25(OH)2
D requires NKT cells, IL-10, the IL-10R and IL-4. Comparisons of mouse and human T cells show that 1,25(OH)2
D inhibits IL-17 and IFN-γ, and induces T regulatory cells and IL-4. IL-4 was induced by 1,25(OH)2
D in mouse and human iNKT cells. Activation for 72h was required for optimal expression of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in human and mouse T and iNKT cells. In addition, T cells are potential autocrine sources of 1,25(OH)2
D but again only 48–72h after activation. Together the data support the late effects of vitamin D on diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis where reducing IL-17 and IFN-γ, while inducing IL-4 and IL-10, would be beneficial.
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