Over the past decade, interest has grown in the role of vitamin D in many nonskeletal medical conditions, including respiratory infection. Emerging evidence indicates that vitamin D-mediated innate immunity, particularly through enhanced expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (hCAP-18), is important in host defenses against respiratory tract pathogens.

Observational studies suggest that vitamin D deficiency increases risk of respiratory infections. This increased risk may contribute to incident wheezing illness in children and adults and cause asthma exacerbations.

Although unproven, the increased risk of specific respiratory infections in susceptible hosts may contribute to some cases of incident asthma. Vitamin D also modulates regulatory T-cell function and interleukin-10 production, which may increase the therapeutic response to glucocorticoids in steroid-resistant asthma.

Future laboratory, epidemiologic, and randomized interventional studies are needed to better understand vitamin D's effects on respiratory infection and asthma.