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The production of antimicrobial peptides is essential for protection against a wide variety of microbial pathogens and plays an important role in the pathogenesis of several diseases. The mechanisms responsible for expression of antimicrobial peptides are incompletely understood, but a role for vitamin D as a transcriptional inducer of the antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin has been proposed. We show that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25-D3) acts together with parathyroid hormone (PTH), or the shared amino-terminal domain of PTH-related peptide (PTHrP), to synergistically increase cathelicidin and immune defense. Administration of PTH to mouse skin decreased susceptibility to skin infection by group A Streptococcus. Mice on dietary vitamin D3 restriction that responded with an elevation in PTH have an increased risk of infection if they lack 1,25-D3. These results identify PTH/PTHrP as a variable that serves to compensate for inadequate vitamin D during activation of antimicrobial peptide production.
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