Central Eur J Immunol.2013 38(1):70-75. DOI: 10.5114/ceji.2013.34360

Examination of correlation between vitamin D3 (25-OHD3) concentration and percentage of regulatory T lymphocytes (FoxP3) in children with allergy symptoms


1Paediatric, Nephrology and Allergology Clinic, Military Institute of Medicine, Warsaw, Poland

2Department of Regenerative Medicine, Military Institute of Hygiene & Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland

3Department of Microwave Safety, Military Institute of Hygiene & Epidemiology, Warsaw, Poland



Populations of T lymphocytes cells called regulatory T lymphocytes (Tregs) play a key role in the formation and maintenance of immune tolerance. This phenotypically heterogeneous group of cells regulates the immune system and plays an important role in tumor immunology, transplant immunology and the pathogenesis of multiple disorders, in particular autoimmune diseases. In the study it was decided to investigate the difference in the correlation of levels of vitamin D3 (25-OHD3) with the percentage of Tregs cells (FoxP3+) in children with no symptoms of allergy (control group), and with symptoms of allergy. In addition, in both groups the phenotype of lymphocytes was identified. The results indicate a positive correlation between Tregs and 25-OHD3 only in children with allergic symptoms (no correlation in the control group), along with a simultaneous significant reduction in the percentage of CD4 lymphocytes in this group.

Keywords: allergy, regulatory lymphocytes, vitamin D, children’s diseases

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Hypersensitivity and allergy are diseases associated with malfunction of the immune system. Chronic allergic inflammation, in the past called allergy, is excessive and changed response of the immune system, that definition was introduced by K. von Pirquet in 1906. Currently it is used as a synonym for temporary or permanent disturbances of immunoregulation causing incorrectly addressed immune response against a variety of allergens, leading to tissue damage. These diseases are called “civilization diseases” and affect increasing numbers of occupants, including children. Disturbing is the fact that the age of children catching severe forms of allergic diseases is decreasing. Recent studies have shown that there is subpopulation of T cells called regulatory cells (Tregs) responsible for the strength and scope regulation of the immune system response. Numerous studies have demonstrated that an increased Tregs subpopulation percentage reduces the sensitivity of the immune system to external or changed in the disease process antigens, which allows the growth of tumors. On the other hand decreased Tregs percentage increases the strength of immune response, which may lead to chronic inflammatory diseases and autoimmune diseases. Therefore it seems to be important to find factors which can affect the level and function of the Tregs cells.

In recent years, published studies were showing a relationship between the concentration of metabolites of vitamin D and the incidence of autoimmune diseases. Moreover some evidence suggest that vitamin D might prevent the development of these diseases, by increasing the number or the effect of the naturally occurring Tregs cells. At the same time a lot of data is still contradictory and there is no conclusive data demonstrating the relationships between vitamin D metabolites and size of the sub-population of regulatory cells. It seems that these discrepancies may be the result of the lack of a clear methodology for determining of regulatory cell subpopulations.

In the article interesting information was provided by examination of correlation between serum 25-OHD3 and the percentage of Tregs in the blood. There was no correlation in the control group (children without allergy), while in the group of children with allergies a strong, proportional correlation between serum 25-OHD3 and the percentage of Tregs in the blood have been shown.

The results from the article cannot be basis for the final conclusions (mainly due to small number of participants in both groups) but are based on good methodology and allow to have a hope for promising results in the future. It might suggest that Tregs cells are involved in T cell responses to allergic inflammation, and can play a possible role as a limiting element of this process. Also very important (especially in children) is the possibility to find an easy, cheap and effective method for reducing the allergic symptoms through the adequate vitamin D3 supplementation.

Sławomir  Lewicki-1

Sławomir  Lewicki-2

Fig. 1. Typical cytogram of one of the patients showing the labeling percentage of regulatory cells among the CD4+ lymphocyte subsets. R1 – a separate sub-population of CD4+, R2 – lymphocyte subpopulation of regulatory CD4+/CD25+/FoxP3+


Sławomir  Lewicki-3Fig. 2. Correlation between the percentage of regulatory cells (as percent of CD4 cells) and 25-OHD3 in children with allergy symptoms. R = 0.878, R2 = 0.772, p = 0.0008


Tab. 1. The average level (± SE) of IgE and 25-OHD3 in the serum of the children.


Control group

Group with symptoms of atopic   allergy

The average level of total IgE [IU/ml]

51.56 ± 11.99

698 ± 389.59

Average   concentrations of vitamin

25-OHD3 [ng/ml]

20.54 ± 3.28

18.63 ± 3.20



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