Background: Vitamin D deficiency is common in patients with Crohn's disease (CD), although whether this impairs immune responsiveness, and is related to disease activity per se, remains unclear. We sought to investigate vitamin D pathways in patients with CD according to measures of inflammation and immune response.
Methods: Prospectively collected samples of a well-characterized cohort of patients with CD were used to measure serum 25(OH)-vitamin D levels by enzyme-linked immunoassay. Related gene expression was determined by polymerase chain reaction in T cells. The effect of vitamin D on the proliferation of isolated CD4+ cells was determined.
Results: Patients with active CD had lower serum vitamin D levels than those in clinical remission; this measurement was independent of season or reported use of vitamin D supplements. Harvey–Bradshaw Index scores, but not C-reactive protein, correlated with serum vitamin D levels. Gene expression of the vitamin D receptor was higher in peripheral blood T cells from patients with active disease than in those in remission. The proportion of CD25hi CD4+ cells from patients with CD increased in the presence of vitamin D. After treatment with infliximab, significant increases in serum vitamin D levels were noted in patients.
Conclusions: Low vitamin D levels are associated with disease activity in CD and increase after infliximab treatment.