Anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D on human immune cells in the context of bacterial infection

Edwin Hoe, Jordan Nathanielsz, Zheng Quan Toh, Leena Spry, Rachel Marimla, Anne Balloch, Kim mulholland, Paul V. Licciardi

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Vitamin D induces a diverse range of biological effects, including important functions in bone health, calcium homeostasis and, more recently, on immune function. The role of vitamin D during infection is of particular interest given data from epidemiological studies suggesting that vitamin D deficiency is associated with an increased risk of infection. Vitamin D has diverse immunomodulatory functions, although its role during bacterial infection remains unclear. In this study, we examined the effects of 1,25(OH)2D3, the active metabolite of vitamin D, on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and purified immune cell subsets isolated from healthy adults following stimulation with the bacterial ligands heat-killed pneumococcal serotype 19F (HK19F) and lipopolysaccharide (LPS).We found that 1,25(OH)2D3significantly reduced pro-inflammatory cytokines TNF-α, IFN-γ, and IL-1β as well as the chemokine IL-8 for both ligands (three-to 53-fold), while anti-inflammatory IL-10 was increased (two-fold, p = 0.016) in HK19F-stimulated monocytes. Levels of HK19F-specific IFN-γ were significantly higher (11.7-fold, p = 0.038) in vitamin D-insufficient adults (<50 nmol/L) compared to sufficient adults (>50 nmol/L). Vitamin D also shifted the pro-inflammatory/anti-inflammatory balance towards an anti-inflammatory phenotype and increased the CD14 expression on monocytes (p = 0.008) in response to LPS but not HK19F stimulation. These results suggest that 1,25(OH)2D3may be an important regulator of the inflammatory response and supports further in vivo and clinical studies to confirm the potential benefits of vitamin D in this context.

Original languageEnglish
Article number806
Number of pages14
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 12 Dec 2016
Externally publishedYes


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