Cutting edge: Progesterone directly upregulates vitamin D receptor gene expression for efficient regulation of T cells by calcitriol

Shankar Thangamani, Myughoo Kim, Youngmin Son, Xinxin Huang, Heejoo Kim, Jee H. Lee, Jungyoon Cho, Benjamin Ulrich, Hal E. Broxmeyer, Chang H. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations


The two nuclear hormone receptor ligands progesterone and vitamin D (vit.D) play important roles in regulating T cells. The mechanism that connects these two hormones in regulating T cells has not been established. In this study, we report that progesterone is a novel inducer of vit.D receptor (VDR) in T cells and makes T cells highly sensitive to calcitriol. At the molecular level, the induction by progesterone is mediated by two progesterone receptor-binding elements in the intron region after the first noncoding exon of the human VDR gene. Increased expression of VDR by progesterone allows highly sensitive regulation of T cells by vit.D even when vit.D levels are suboptimal. This novel regulatory pathway allows enhanced induction of regulatory T cells but suppression of Th1 and Th17 cells by the two nuclear hormones. The results have significant ramifications in effective regulation of T cells to prevent adverse immune responses during pregnancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)883-886
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology

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