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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 470805, 16 pages
Review Article

Vitamin D and Inflammatory Bowel Disease

1Internal Medicine, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
2Laboratory of Immunology and Biotherapy, Department of Human Pathology, University of Messina, Messina, Italy
3Clinical Unit for Chronic Bowel Disorders, IBD-UNIT, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Messina, Via Consolare Valeria 1, 98125 Messina, Italy

Received 27 November 2014; Revised 2 February 2015; Accepted 13 February 2015

Academic Editor: K. Šebeková

Copyright © 2015 Marco Ardesia et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Vitamin D deficiency has been recognized as an environmental risk factor for Crohn’s disease since the early 80s. Initially, this finding was correlated with metabolic bone disease. Low serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels have been repeatedly reported in inflammatory bowel diseases together with a relationship between vitamin D status and disease activity. Subsequently, low serum vitamin D levels have been reported in various immune-related diseases pointing to an immunoregulatory role. Indeed, vitamin D and its receptor (VDR) are known to interact with different players of the immune homeostasis by controlling cell proliferation, antigen receptor signalling, and intestinal barrier function. Moreover, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D is implicated in NOD2-mediated expression of defensin-β2, the latter known to play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of Crohn’s disease (IBD1 gene), and several genetic variants of the vitamin D receptor have been identified as Crohn’s disease candidate susceptibility genes. From animal models we have learned that deletion of the VDR gene was associated with a more severe disease. There is a growing body of evidence concerning the therapeutic role of vitamin D/synthetic vitamin D receptor agonists in clinical and experimental models of inflammatory bowel disease far beyond the role of calcium homeostasis and bone metabolism.