Vitamin D: a new anti-infective agent?
Article first published online: 4 MAR 2014
© 2014 New York Academy of Sciences.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences
Volume 1317, Steroids in Neuroendocrine Immunology and Therapy of Rheumatic Diseases I pages 76–83, May 2014
How to Cite
Borella, E., Nesher, G., Israeli, E. and Shoenfeld, Y. (2014), Vitamin D: a new anti-infective agent?. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1317: 76–83. doi: 10.1111/nyas.12321
- Issue published online: 31 MAY 2014
- Article first published online: 4 MAR 2014
- vitamin D;
Before the antibiotic era, treatment of tuberculosis patients was restricted to sun exposure in sanatoria. Years later, it was found that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 stimulates production of cathelicidins, a family of polypeptides found in lysosomes of macrophages and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. Cathelicidins serve a critical role in innate immune defense, which plays an important role in the suppression of Mycobacterium infections and other pathogens. It is believed that the increased incidence of the common cold and pneumonia during winter is related, in part, to decreased exposure to sunlight, resulting in a decreased synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. An association has been established between low levels of vitamin D and upper respiratory and enteric infections, pneumonia, otitis media, Clostridium infections, vaginosis, urinary tract infections, sepsis, influenza, dengue, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV infections. Accumulating evidence suggests that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 exerts protective effects during infections by upregulating the expression of cathelicidin and β-defensin 2 in phagocytes and epithelial cells. Vitamin D may be acting as a panaceal antibiotic agent and thus may be useful as an adjuvant therapy in diverse infections.