Molecular Aspects of Medicine vol:29 issue:6 pages:376-387
1,25(OH)(2)D-3, the active form of vitamin D, is a central player in calcium and bone metabolism. More recently, important immunomodulatory effects have been attributed to this hormone. The widespread presence of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the immune system and the expression of the enzymes responsible for the synthesis of the active 1,25(OH)(2)D-3 regulated by specific immune signals, even suggest a paracrine immunomodulatory role for 1,25(OH)(2)D-3. Additionally, the different molecular mechanisms used by 1,25(OH)(2)D-3 to exert its immunomodulatory effects prove of a broad action radius for this compound. Both, the effects of vitamin D deficiency and/or absence of the VDR as well as intervention with pharmacological doses of 1,25(OH)(2)D-3 or one of its less-calcemic analogs, affects immune system behavior in different animal models of immune-mediated disorders, such as type 1 diabetes. This review aims to summarize the data as they stand at the present time on the role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of immune-mediated disorders, with special focus on type 1 diabetes, and on the therapeutic opportunities for vitamin D in the prevention and treatment of this autoimmune disease in mouse models and humans. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.