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Vitamin D deficiency (VDD) is highly prevalent worldwide. The classical role for vitamin D is to regulate calcium absorption form the gastrointestinal tract and influence bone health. Recently vitamin D receptors and vitamin D metabolic enzymes have been discovered in numerous sites systemically supporting diverse extra-skeletal roles of vitamin D, for example in asthmatic disease. Further, VDD and asthma share several common risk factors including high latitude, winter season, industrialization, poor diet, obesity, and dark skin pigmentation. Vitamin D has been demonstrated to possess potent immunomodulatory effects, including effects on T cells and B cells as well as increasing production of antimicrobial peptides (e.g. cathelicidin). This immunomodulation may lead to asthma specific clinical benefits in terms of decreased bacterial/viral infections, altered airway smooth muscle-remodeling and efunction as well as modulation of response to standard anti-asthma therapy (e.g. glucocorticoids and immunotherapy). Thus, vitamin D and its deficiency have a number of biological effects that are potentially important in altering the course of disease pathogenesis and severity in asthma. The purpose of this first of a two-part review is to review potential mechanisms whereby altering vitamin D status may influence asthmatic disease.
Kerley CP, Elnazir B, Faul J, Cormican L. (2015) Vitamin D as an adjunctive therapy in asthma. Part 1: A review of potential mechanisms. Pulmonary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, 2015 Jun;32:60-74. doi: 10.1016/j.pupt.2015.02.004