Periodontal diseaseHow does vitamin D work?

There are several mechanisms whereby vitamin D can reduce the risk and severity of Periodontal disease (PD).  

One is through production of cathelicidin and defensins, which have antimicrobial properties1.  These compounds are able to reduce the population of periodontal-causing bacteria in the mouth.

Another mechanism is reduction of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs).  MMPs are enzymes that assist in modulation of interstitial tissue by digestion of its supportive matrix, especially collagen, and MMP-9, in particular, is known to be present in large amounts in active PD2.  

A study of British Bangladeshi adults, free of known diabetes or major illness, showed that a year of modest vitamin D supplementation led to a decrease in serum circulating MMP-9 by- 69%3.

Page last edited: 03 May 2011


  1. Gombart, A. F. The vitamin D-antimicrobial peptide pathway and its role in protection against infection. Future Microbiol. 2009 Nov; 41151-65.
  2. Lorencini, M. Silva, J. A. de la Hoz, C. L. Carvalho, H. F. Stach-Machado, D. R. Changes in MMPs and inflammatory cells in experimental gingivitis. Histol Histopathol. 2009 Feb; 24 (2): 157-66.
  3. Timms, P. M. Mannan, N. Hitman, G. A. Noonan, K. Mills, P. G. Syndercombe-Court, D. Aganna, E. Price, C. P. Boucher, B. J. Circulating MMP9, vitamin D and variation in the TIMP-1 response with VDR genotype: mechanisms for inflammatory damage in chronic disorders?. QJM. 2002 Dec; 95 (12): 787-96.