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Mechanism of Action of Vitamin D in the Asthmatic Lung
  1. Sabah Fatima Iqbal, MD*†‡,
  2. Robert J. Freishtat, MD, MPH*†‡
  1. From the *Division of Emergency Medicine, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC; †Departments of Pediatrics, and ‡Integrative Systems Biology, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Washington, DC.
  1. Received May 28, 2011.
  2. Accepted for publication August 11, 2011.
  3. Reprints: Sabah Fatima Iqbal, MD, Children’s National Medical Center, Washington, DC. E-mail: sabah2002{at}
  4. Supported in part by grants K12HL090020 (SFI) and K23RR020069 (RJF), P20MD000198 (RJF), and M01RR020359 (RJF) from the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland; and by a grant from the National Center for Research Resources (R13 RR023236).


Vitamin D, or 1,25-dihydroxy vitamin D (1,25[OH]D), in its activated form, has long been recognized as a critical mediator in bone health. New research has identified 1,25(OH)D as also vital for respiratory health. Owing to its intrinsic anti-inflammatory properties, 1,25(OH)D may be very important in people with asthma. This review article seeks to evaluate the current literature to delineate the potential mechanisms of action by which 1,25(OH)D affects asthma. We summarize the evidence that 1,25(OH)D has receptors in multiple lung cell types and acts to abrogate asthma by several mechanisms: promoting lung immunity, decreasing inflammation, slowing cell cycling, reducing hyperplasia, and enhancing the effects of exogenous steroids. Put together, there is compelling evidence for the role of vitamin D in asthma.

Key Words
  • vitamin D
  • asthma

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