Vitamin D deficiency is a common health problem with consequences not limited to bone and calcium hemostasis. Low levels have also been linked to tuberculosis and other respiratory infections as well as autoimmune diseases. We have previously shown that supplementation with vitamin D can induce the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin during ex vivo infection of human urinary bladder. In rodents, however, cathelicidin expression is not linked to vitamin D and therefore this vitamin D-related effect fighting bacterial invasion is not relevant. To determine if vitamin D had further protective mechanisms during urinary tract infections, we therefore used a mouse model. In vitamin D-deficient mice, we detected more intracellular bacterial communities in the urinary bladder, higher degree of bacterial spread to the upper urinary tract and a skewed cytokine response. Furthermore, we show that the vitamin D receptor was upregulated in the urinary bladder and translocated into the cell nucleus after E. coli infection. This study supports a more general role for vitamin D as a local immune response mediator in the urinary tract.
Hertting, O., Lüthje, P., Sullivan, D., Aspenström, P., & Brauner, A. (2017). Vitamin D-deficient mice have more invasive urinary tract infection. PLoS ONE, 12(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0180810