[Note: To read the full text of this article detailing evidence of vitamin D’s role in multiple infection-fighting mechanisms, click HERE.]
Evidence exists that vitamin D has a potential antimicrobial activity and its deficiency has deleterious effects on general well-being and longevity. Vitamin D may reduce the risk of infection through multiple mechanisms.
Vitamin D boosts innate immunity by modulating production of anti-microbial peptides (AMPs) and cytokine response. Vitamin D and its analogues via these mechanisms are playing an increasing role in the management of atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, vitiligo, acne and rosacea.
Vitamin D may reduce susceptibility to infection in patients with atopic dermatitis, and the ability to regulate local immune and inflammatory responses offers exciting potential for understanding and treating chronic inflammatory dermatitides.
Moreover, B and T cell activation as well as boosting the activity of monocytes and macrophages also contribute to a potent systemic anti-microbial effect. The direct invasion by pathogenic organisms may be minimized at sites such as the respiratory tract by enhancing clearance of invading organisms.
A vitamin D replete state appears to benefit most infections, with the possible noteworthy exception of Leishmaniasis [protozoan parasites transmitted by a species of sand fly].
Antibiotics remain an expensive option and misuse of these agents results in significant antibiotic resistance and contributes to escalating health care costs. Vitamin D constitutes an inexpensive prophylactic option and possibly therapeutic product either by itself or as a synergistic agent to traditional antimicrobial agents.
This review outlines the specific antimicrobial properties of vitamin D in combating a wide range of organisms. We discuss the possible mechanisms by which vitamin D may have a therapeutic role in managing a variety of infections.
Source: Dermato-Endocrinology, Oct-Nov-Dec 2011. PMID:22259647Youssef DA, Miller CW, El-Abbassi AM, Cutchins DC, Cutchins C, Grant WB, Peiris AN. Mountain Home VAMC Medicine Service, Mountain Home; Tennessee, USA.