We used tuberculous pleuritis as a model to study the compartmentalization and potential immunoregulatory role of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25-(OH)2-D] in human granulomatous disease. In tuberculous pleuritis, mean concentrations of total 1,25-(OH)2-D were elevated in pleural fluid, compared to blood (67 pg/ml vs. 35 pg/ml). Concentrations of albumin, protein and 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) were lower in pleural fluid than blood, suggesting that accumulation of binding proteins does not explain the transpleural gradient of 1,25-(OH)2-D. The mean free 1,25-(OH)2-D concentration in pleural fluid was increased 5.3-fold over that in serum. 1,25-(OH)2-D3 inhibited PPD-induced proliferation of pleural fluid mononuclear cells, antigen-reactive lines and T lymphocyte clones derived from a single cell. Patient-derived PPD-reactive lines expressed a high-affinity intracellular binding moiety for 1,25-(OH)2-D3. Pleural fluid mononuclear cells and PPD-reactive lines did not metabolize 25-OH-D3 to 1,25-(OH)2-D3. The sum of these data suggests that concentration of 1,25-(OH)2-D in pleural fluid of tuberculosis patients is probably due to local hormone production by pleural tissue-based inflammatory cells that are not present in significant numbers in pleural fluid. Elevated concentrations of 1,25-(OH)2-D in pleural fluid may exert receptor-mediated inhibition of antigen-induced proliferation by pleural fluid lymphocytes. Inhibition of lymphocyte proliferation and lymphokine production may prevent tissue destruction from an uncontrolled inflammatory response.
P F Barnes, R L Modlin, D D Bikle, J S Adams