Lineage-specific effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on the development of effector CD4 T cells

Academic Article


  • Vitamin D deficiency is implicated in autoimmune disease. We therefore evaluated the effects of 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D 3), the active form of vitamin D, on the development of T helper 1 (Th1), Th17, and Th9 cells, which are implicated in the pathogenesis of different types of autoimmunity. 1,25-D3 compromised the development of Th17 and Th9 cells, including IL-22-expressing cells while simultaneously increasing the frequency of IL-10-competent cells. Relative to Th17 and Th9 cells, the effects of 1,25-D3 on Th1 cells were modest, reflecting the significantly reduced levels of the receptor for vitamin D in this lineage. The use of cells deficient in IL-10 or antibodies that block IL-10 signaling abolished the inhibitory effect of 1,25-D3 on Th9 cells but had no effect on inhibition of Th17 cell frequencies. Thus, the induction of IL-10 in cultures of Th9 cells is an important mechanism by which 1,25-D3 compromises Th9 development but does not explain inhibition of Th17 cells. A survey of select representatives of the Th17 transcriptome revealed that the levels of mRNA that encode RORγt, IL-17A, IL-17F, IL-23R, and IL-22, were reduced by 1,25-D3, whereas IL-21 and aryl hydrocarbon receptor mRNA remained unchanged. These data suggest that vitamin D deficiency may promote autoimmunity by favoring the inordinate production of Th17 and Th9 cells at the expense of regulatory IL-10-producing T cells.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Palmer MT; Lee YK; Maynard CL; Oliver JR; Bikle DD; Jetten AM; Weaver CT
  • Start Page

  • 997
  • End Page

  • 1004
  • Volume

  • 286
  • Issue

  • 2