Vitamin D in the healthy and inflamed central nervous system: access and function

Joost Smolders, Stine Marit Moen, Jan Damoiseaux, Inge Huitinga, Trygve Holmoy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


High exposure to vitamin D may protect against development and progression of multiple sclerosis (MS), possibly through the immunomodulatory properties of its biologically active metabolite 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D. So far, most studies on the possible mechanisms for vitamin D involvement in MS have focused on immune modulation outside the central nervous system (CNS). However, vitamin D may also interfere with the pathophysiology of MS within the CNS. In this review, the potential presence and functions of vitamin Din the inflamed and healthy CNS are explored. We discuss that vitamin D, vitamin D binding protein (DBP), the vitamin D receptor (VDR) and enzymes needed for metabolism (CYP27B1) are present in the CNS. Both VDR and CYP27B1 are expressed on a variety of cells, including neurons, glial cells, and invading lymphocytes. Additionally, vitamin D has been postulated to play a modulating role in several key-processes in MS pathophysiology, including inflammation, demyelination, axonal damage, and remyelination. We conclude that a local role of vitamin Din the inflamed CNS is likely and potentially relevant to MS. Future studies should further characterize the impact of vitamin Don the local disease process of MS in the CNS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-43
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2011


  • Vitamin D
  • Central nervous system
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Vitamin D binding protein
  • 25 hydroxyvitamin D


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