Vitamin d modulation of the innate immune response to paediatric respiratory pathogens associated with acute lower respiratory infections

Amy S. Bleakley, Paul V. Licciardi, Michael J. Binks

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    Vitamin D is an essential component of immune function and childhood deficiency is associated with an increased risk of acute lower respiratory infections (ALRIs). Globally, the leading childhood respiratory pathogens are Streptococcus pneumoniae, respiratory syncytial virus and the influenza virus. There is a growing body of evidence describing the innate immunomodulatory properties of vitamin D during challenge with respiratory pathogens, but recent systematic and unbiased synthesis of data is lacking, and future research directions are unclear. We therefore conducted a systematic PubMed literature search using the terms “vitamin D” and “Streptococcus pneumoniae” or “Respiratory Syncytial Virus” or “Influenza”. A priori inclusion criteria restricted the review to in vitro studies investigating the effect of vitamin D metabolites on human innate immune cells (primary, differentiated or immortalised) in response to stimulation with the specified respiratory pathogens. Eleven studies met our criteria. Despite some heterogeneity across pathogens and innate cell types, vitamin D modulated pathogen recognition receptor (PRRs: Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2), TLR4, TLR7 and nucleotide-binding oligomerisation domain-containing protein 2 (NOD2)) expres-sion; increased antimicrobial peptide expression (LL-37, human neutrophil peptide (HNP) 1-3 and β-defensin); modulated autophagosome production reducing apoptosis; and modulated production of inflammatory cytokines (Interleukin (IL)-1β, tumour necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interferon-G (IFN-G), IL-12p70, IFN-β, Regulated on Activation, Normal T cell Expressed (RANTES), IL-10) and chemokines (IL-8 and C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 10 (CXCL10)). Differential modulation of PRRs and IL-1β was reported across immune cell types; however, this may be due to the experimental design. None of the studies specifically focused on immune responses in cells derived from children. In summary, vitamin D promotes a balanced immune response, potentially enhancing pathogen sensing and clearance and restricting pathogen induced inflammatory dysregulation. This is likely to be important in controlling both ALRIs and the immunopathology associated with poorer outcomes and progression to chronic lung diseases. Many unknowns remain and further investigation is required to clarify the nuances in vitamin D mediated immune responses by pathogen and immune cell type and to determine whether these in vitro findings translate into enhanced immunity and reduced ALRI in the paediatric clinical setting.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number276
    Pages (from-to)1-24
    Number of pages24
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021

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