IFN-gamma- and TNF-independent vitamin D-inducible human suppression of mycobacteria: The role of cathelicidin LL-37

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Vitamin D deficiency is associated with susceptibility to tuberculosis, and its biologically active metabolite, 1 alpha,25 dihydroxyvitamin D-3 (1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3), has pleiotropic immune effects. The mechanisms by which 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 protects against tuberculosis are incompletely understood. 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 reduced the growth of mycobacteria in infected human PBMC cultures in a dose-dependent fashion. Coculture with agonists or antagonists of the membrane or nuclear vitamin D receptors indicated that these effects were primarily mediated by the nuclear vitamin D receptors. 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 reduced transcription and secretion of protective IFN-gamma, IL-12p40, and TNF in infected PBMC and macrophages, indicating that 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 does not mediate protection via these cytokines. Although NOM was up-regulated by 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3, inhibition of NO formation marginally affected the suppressive effect of 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 on bacillus Calmette Guerin in infected cells. By contrast, 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 strongly up-regulated the cathelicidin hCAP-18 gene, and some hCAP-18 polypeptide colocalized with CD14 in 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3 stimulated PBMC, although no detectable LL-37 peptide was found in supernatants from similar 1 alpha,25(OH)(2)D-3-stimulated PBMC cultures. A total of 200 mu g/ml of the active peptide LL-37, in turn, reduced the growth of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in culture by 75.7%. These findings suggest that vitamin D contributes to protection against TB by '' nonclassical '' mechanisms that include the induction of antimicrobial peptides.


  • Adrian R. Martineau
  • Katalin A. Wilkinson
  • Sandra M. Newton
  • R. Andres Floto
  • Anthony W. Norman
  • Keira Skolimowska
  • Robert N. Davidson
  • Ole E Sørensen
  • Beate Kampmann
  • Christopher J. Griffiths
  • Robert J. Wilkinson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Immunology in the medical area
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7190-7198
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch