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The cytokine storm (hypercytokinemia) is the systemic expression of a healthy and vigorous immune system resulting in the release of more than 150 inflammatory mediators (cytokines, oxygen free radicals, and coagulation factors). Both pro-inflammatory cytokines (such as Tumor necrosis factor-alpha, Interleukin-1, and Interleukin-6) and anti-inflammatory cytokines (such as interleukin 10 and interleukin 1 receptor antagonist) are elevated in the serum of patients experiencing a cytokine storm
Scientists have linked various aspects of immune health to a Vitamin D3 deficiency. Vitamin D3 regulates T cells, which are important to the functioning of a strong immune system. Vitamin D3 acts as an immune system modulator, preventing excessive expression of inflammatory cytokines and increasing the killing efficiency of macrophages. In addition, it dramatically stimulates the expression of potent anti-microbial peptides, which exist in immune system cells such as neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer cells, and in cells lining the respiratory tract. These Vitamin-D3-stimulated peptides play a major role in protecting the lung from infection.13
In addition, Vitamin D3 deficiency may influence development and progression of various autoimmune diseases.14
Role in pandemic deaths
It is believed that cytokine storms were responsible for many of the deaths during the 1918 influenza pandemic, which killed a disproportionate number of young adults. In this case, a healthy immune system may have been a liability rather than an asset. Preliminary research results from Hong Kong also indicated this as the probable reason for many deaths during the SARS epidemic in 2003. Human deaths from the bird flu H5N1 usually involve cytokine storms as well. Recent reports of high mortality among healthy young adults in the 2009 swine flu outbreak point to cytokine storms as being responsible for these deaths.