PSU Profiles
Last Name

Margherita Cantorna

TitleProfessor of Molecular Immunology
InstitutionCollege of Agricultural Sciences
DepartmentVeterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Address125 Henning Bldg
University Park, PA 16802
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    Other Positions
    TitleChair of the Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases
    InstitutionHuck Institutes of the Life Sciences

    Collapse Overview 
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    Professor of Molecular Immunology
    Chair, Intercollege Graduate Degree Program in Immunology and Infectious Diseases


    Cell and Developmental Biology, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Molecular Medicine


    B.S. in Chemistry, University of Illinois-Urbana
    Ph.D. in Immunology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Postdoctoral Fellow in Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin-Madison


    Dr. Cantorna's research focuses on understanding the targets of vitamin D in the immune system. She hypothesizes that vitamin D availability from either sunshine exposure or diet is an environmental factor that affects the development of the immune disease and as a consequence the development of diseases like inflammatory bowel disease. The implications are that improved vitamin D status early in life might affect the development of the immune response and affect immune mediated diseases like inflammatory bowel disease and multiple sclerosis.

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    1. Tian Y, Nichols RG, Cai J, Patterson AD, Cantorna MT. Vitamin A deficiency in mice alters host and gut microbial metabolism leading to altered energy homeostasis. J Nutr Biochem. 2017 Nov 05; 54:28-34. PMID: 29227833.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Cantorna MT. Comment on "Diet-Derived Short Chain Fatty Acids Stimulate Intestinal Epithelial Cells To Induce Mucosal Tolerogenic Dendritic Cells". J Immunol. 2017 Jun 01; 198(11):4188. PMID: 28533278.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Bora S, Cantorna MT. The role of UVR and vitamin D on T cells and inflammatory bowel disease. Photochem Photobiol Sci. 2017 Mar 16; 16(3):347-353. PMID: 27714313.
      View in: PubMed
    4. James J, Weaver V, Cantorna MT. Control of Circulating IgE by the Vitamin D Receptor In Vivo Involves B Cell Intrinsic and Extrinsic Mechanisms. J Immunol. 2017 02 01; 198(3):1164-1171. PMID: 28003380.
      View in: PubMed
    5. Cantorna MT. IBD: Vitamin D and IBD: moving towards clinical trials. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 06; 13(6):322-3. PMID: 27147490.
      View in: PubMed
    6. McDaniel KL, Restori KH, Dodds JW, Kennett MJ, Ross AC, Cantorna MT. Vitamin A-Deficient Hosts Become Nonsymptomatic Reservoirs of Escherichia coli-Like Enteric Infections. Infect Immun. 2015 Jul; 83(7):2984-91. PMID: 25964475; PMCID: PMC4468526.
    7. Cantorna MT, Snyder L, Lin YD, Yang L. Vitamin D and 1,25(OH)2D regulation of T cells. Nutrients. 2015 Apr 22; 7(4):3011-21. PMID: 25912039; PMCID: PMC4425186.
    8. Waddell A, Zhao J, Cantorna MT. NKT cells can help mediate the protective effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice. Int Immunol. 2015 May; 27(5):237-44. PMID: 25574039; PMCID: PMC4406266.
    9. Chen J, Waddell A, Lin YD, Cantorna MT. Dysbiosis caused by vitamin D receptor deficiency confers colonization resistance to Citrobacter rodentium through modulation of innate lymphoid cells. Mucosal Immunol. 2015 May; 8(3):618-26. PMID: 25315967; PMCID: PMC4398576.
    10. Kaushal N, Kudva AK, Patterson AD, Chiaro C, Kennett MJ, Desai D, Amin S, Carlson BA, Cantorna MT, Prabhu KS. Crucial role of macrophage selenoproteins in experimental colitis. J Immunol. 2014 Oct 01; 193(7):3683-92. PMID: 25187657; PMCID: PMC4170023.
    11. He X, Yan J, Zhu X, Wang Q, Pang W, Qi Z, Wang M, Luo E, Parker DM, Cantorna MT, Cui L, Cao Y. Vitamin D inhibits the occurrence of experimental cerebral malaria in mice by suppressing the host inflammatory response. J Immunol. 2014 Aug 01; 193(3):1314-23. PMID: 24965778; PMCID: PMC4110641.
    12. Feeney MJ, Dwyer J, Hasler-Lewis CM, Milner JA, Noakes M, Rowe S, Wach M, Beelman RB, Caldwell J, Cantorna MT, Castlebury LA, Chang ST, Cheskin LJ, Clemens R, Drescher G, Fulgoni VL, Haytowitz DB, Hubbard VS, Law D, Myrdal Miller A, Minor B, Percival SS, Riscuta G, Schneeman B, Thornsbury S, Toner CD, Woteki CE, Wu D. Mushrooms and Health Summit proceedings. J Nutr. 2014 Jul; 144(7):1128S-36S. PMID: 24812070; PMCID: PMC4056650.
    13. Cantorna MT, Waddell A. The vitamin D receptor turns off chronically activated T cells. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2014 May; 1317:70-5. PMID: 24673331.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Cantorna MT, McDaniel K, Bora S, Chen J, James J. Vitamin D, immune regulation, the microbiota, and inflammatory bowel disease. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2014 Nov; 239(11):1524-30. PMID: 24668555; PMCID: PMC4176535.
    15. Chen J, Bruce D, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D receptor expression controls proliferation of naïve CD8+ T cells and development of CD8 mediated gastrointestinal inflammation. BMC Immunol. 2014 Feb 07; 15:6. PMID: 24502291; PMCID: PMC3923390.
    16. Ooi JH, Waddell A, Lin YD, Albert I, Rust LT, Holden V, Cantorna MT. Dominant effects of the diet on the microbiome and the local and systemic immune response in mice. PLoS One. 2014; 9(1):e86366. PMID: 24489720; PMCID: PMC3906035.
    17. Restori KH, McDaniel KL, Wray AE, Cantorna MT, Ross AC. Streptococcus pneumoniae-induced pneumonia and Citrobacter rodentium-induced gut infection differentially alter vitamin A concentrations in the lung and liver of mice. J Nutr. 2014 Mar; 144(3):392-8. PMID: 24431327; PMCID: PMC3927551.
    18. Ooi JH, McDaniel KL, Weaver V, Cantorna MT. Murine CD8+ T cells but not macrophages express the vitamin D 1a-hydroxylase. J Nutr Biochem. 2014 Jan; 25(1):58-65. PMID: 24314866; PMCID: PMC3857601.
    19. Ooi JH, Li Y, Rogers CJ, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D regulates the gut microbiome and protects mice from dextran sodium sulfate-induced colitis. J Nutr. 2013 Oct; 143(10):1679-86. PMID: 23966330; PMCID: PMC3771816.
    20. Pinkerton M, Chinchilli V, Banta E, Craig T, August A, Bascom R, Cantorna M, Harvill E, Ishmael FT. Differential expression of microRNAs in exhaled breath condensates of patients with asthma, patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and healthy adults. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Jul; 132(1):217-9. PMID: 23628339.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Yang L, Weaver V, Smith JP, Bingaman S, Hartman TJ, Cantorna MT. Therapeutic effect of vitamin d supplementation in a pilot study of Crohn's patients. Clin Transl Gastroenterol. 2013 Apr 18; 4:e33. PMID: 23594800; PMCID: PMC3636524.
    22. Varshney J, Ooi JH, Jayarao BM, Albert I, Fisher J, Smith RL, Patterson AD, Cantorna MT. White button mushrooms increase microbial diversity and accelerate the resolution of Citrobacter rodentium infection in mice. J Nutr. 2013 Apr; 143(4):526-32. PMID: 23343678; PMCID: PMC3738246.
    23. Cantorna MT, Zhao J, Yang L. Vitamin D, invariant natural killer T-cells and experimental autoimmune disease. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012 Feb; 71(1):62-6. PMID: 21996367; PMCID: PMC3733090.
    24. Cantorna MT. Vitamin D, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2012 Jul 01; 523(1):103-6. PMID: 22085500; PMCID: PMC3374859.
    25. Ooi JH, Chen J, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D regulation of immune function in the gut: why do T cells have vitamin D receptors? Mol Aspects Med. 2012 Feb; 33(1):77-82. PMID: 22079836; PMCID: PMC3781946.
    26. Whitcomb JP, Deagostino M, Ballentine M, Fu J, Tenniswood M, Welsh J, Cantorna M, McDowell MA. The Role of Vitamin D and Vitamin D Receptor in Immunity to Leishmania major Infection. J Parasitol Res. 2012; 2012:134645. PMID: 22007288; PMCID: PMC3191735.
    27. Yu S, Zhao J, Cantorna MT. Invariant NKT cell defects in vitamin D receptor knockout mice prevents experimental lung inflammation. J Immunol. 2011 Nov 01; 187(9):4907-12. PMID: 21948983; PMCID: PMC3197972.
    28. Bruce D, Yu S, Ooi JH, Cantorna MT. Converging pathways lead to overproduction of IL-17 in the absence of vitamin D signaling. Int Immunol. 2011 Aug; 23(8):519-28. PMID: 21697289; PMCID: PMC3139478.
    29. Bruce D, Cantorna MT. Intrinsic requirement for the vitamin D receptor in the development of CD8aa-expressing T cells. J Immunol. 2011 Mar 01; 186(5):2819-25. PMID: 21270396; PMCID: PMC3127166.
    30. Yu S, Cantorna MT. Epigenetic reduction in invariant NKT cells following in utero vitamin D deficiency in mice. J Immunol. 2011 Feb 01; 186(3):1384-90. PMID: 21191070; PMCID: PMC3127168.
    31. Cantorna MT. Why do T cells express the vitamin D receptor? Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Jan; 1217:77-82. PMID: 21114675; PMCID: PMC3129658.
    32. Qi Q, Xia M, Bai Y, Yu S, Cantorna M, August A. Interleukin-2-inducible T cell kinase (Itk) network edge dependence for the maturation of iNKT cell. J Biol Chem. 2011 Jan 07; 286(1):138-46. PMID: 21036902; PMCID: PMC3012968.
    33. Bruce D, Ooi JH, Yu S, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D and host resistance to infection? Putting the cart in front of the horse. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2010 Aug; 235(8):921-7. PMID: 20660091; PMCID: PMC3138330.
    34. Cantorna MT. Mechanisms underlying the effect of vitamin D on the immune system. Proc Nutr Soc. 2010 Aug; 69(3):286-9. PMID: 20515520; PMCID: PMC3138329.
    35. Sanderson P, Elsom RL, Kirkpatrick V, Calder PC, Woodside JV, Williams EA, Rink L, Fairweather-Tait S, Ivory K, Cantorna M, Watzl B, Stone EM. UK food standards agency workshop report: diet and immune function. Br J Nutr. 2010 Jun; 103(11):1684-7. PMID: 20211037.
      View in: PubMed
    36. Yu S, Weaver V, Martin K, Cantorna MT. The effects of whole mushrooms during inflammation. BMC Immunol. 2009 Feb 20; 10:12. PMID: 19232107; PMCID: PMC2649035.
    37. Yu S, Bruce D, Froicu M, Weaver V, Cantorna MT. Failure of T cell homing, reduced CD4/CD8alphaalpha intraepithelial lymphocytes, and inflammation in the gut of vitamin D receptor KO mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Dec 30; 105(52):20834-9. PMID: 19095793; PMCID: PMC2634903.
    38. Bruce D, Whitcomb JP, August A, McDowell MA, Cantorna MT. Elevated non-specific immunity and normal Listeria clearance in young and old vitamin D receptor knockout mice. Int Immunol. 2009 Feb; 21(2):113-22. PMID: 19088060; PMCID: PMC2721678.
    39. Cantorna MT. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis: an update. Nutr Rev. 2008 Oct; 66(10 Suppl 2):S135-8. PMID: 18844840; PMCID: PMC3712128.
    40. Cantorna MT, Yu S, Bruce D. The paradoxical effects of vitamin D on type 1 mediated immunity. Mol Aspects Med. 2008 Dec; 29(6):369-75. PMID: 18561994; PMCID: PMC2633636.
    41. Yu S, Cantorna MT. The vitamin D receptor is required for iNKT cell development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Apr 01; 105(13):5207-12. PMID: 18364394; PMCID: PMC2278204.
    42. Froicu M, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor are critical for control of the innate immune response to colonic injury. BMC Immunol. 2007 Mar 30; 8:5. PMID: 17397543; PMCID: PMC1852118.
    43. Wittke A, Chang A, Froicu M, Harandi OF, Weaver V, August A, Paulson RF, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D receptor expression by the lung micro-environment is required for maximal induction of lung inflammation. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2007 Apr 15; 460(2):306-13. PMID: 17224129; PMCID: PMC1933487.
    44. August A, Mueller C, Weaver V, Polanco TA, Walsh ER, Cantorna MT. Nutrients, nuclear receptors, inflammation, immunity lipids, PPAR, and allergic asthma. J Nutr. 2006 Mar; 136(3):695-9. PMID: 16484545.
      View in: PubMed
    45. Froicu M, Zhu Y, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D receptor is required to control gastrointestinal immunity in IL-10 knockout mice. Immunology. 2006 Mar; 117(3):310-8. PMID: 16476050; PMCID: PMC1782241.
    46. Cantorna MT. Vitamin D and its role in immunology: multiple sclerosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Prog Biophys Mol Biol. 2006 Sep; 92(1):60-4. PMID: 16563470.
      View in: PubMed
    47. Cantorna MT, Mahon BD. D-hormone and the immune system. J Rheumatol Suppl. 2005 Sep; 76:11-20. PMID: 16142846.
      View in: PubMed
    48. Zhu Y, Mahon BD, Froicu M, Cantorna MT. Calcium and 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 target the TNF-alpha pathway to suppress experimental inflammatory bowel disease. Eur J Immunol. 2005 Jan; 35(1):217-24. PMID: 15593122.
      View in: PubMed
    49. Cantorna MT, Zhu Y, Froicu M, Wittke A. Vitamin D status, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, and the immune system. Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Dec; 80(6 Suppl):1717S-20S. PMID: 15585793.
      View in: PubMed
    50. Cantorna MT, Mahon BD. Mounting evidence for vitamin D as an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence. Exp Biol Med (Maywood). 2004 Dec; 229(11):1136-42. PMID: 15564440.
      View in: PubMed
    51. Wittke A, Weaver V, Mahon BD, August A, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D receptor-deficient mice fail to develop experimental allergic asthma. J Immunol. 2004 Sep 01; 173(5):3432-6. PMID: 15322208.
      View in: PubMed
    52. Mueller C, Weaver V, Vanden Heuvel JP, August A, Cantorna MT. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma ligands attenuate immunological symptoms of experimental allergic asthma. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2003 Oct 15; 418(2):186-96. PMID: 14522590.
      View in: PubMed
    53. Froicu M, Weaver V, Wynn TA, McDowell MA, Welsh JE, Cantorna MT. A crucial role for the vitamin D receptor in experimental inflammatory bowel diseases. Mol Endocrinol. 2003 Dec; 17(12):2386-92. PMID: 14500760.
      View in: PubMed
    54. Mahon BD, Wittke A, Weaver V, Cantorna MT. The targets of vitamin D depend on the differentiation and activation status of CD4 positive T cells. J Cell Biochem. 2003 Aug 01; 89(5):922-32. PMID: 12874827.
      View in: PubMed
    55. Grant SM, Wiesinger JA, Beard JL, Cantorna MT. Iron-deficient mice fail to develop autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Nutr. 2003 Aug; 133(8):2635-8. PMID: 12888650.
      View in: PubMed
    56. Mahon BD, Gordon SA, Cruz J, Cosman F, Cantorna MT. Cytokine profile in patients with multiple sclerosis following vitamin D supplementation. J Neuroimmunol. 2003 Jan; 134(1-2):128-32. PMID: 12507780.
      View in: PubMed
    57. Bemiss CJ, Mahon BD, Henry A, Weaver V, Cantorna MT. Interleukin-2 is one of the targets of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in the immune system. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2002 Jun 15; 402(2):249-54. PMID: 12051670.
      View in: PubMed
    58. Deluca HF, Cantorna MT. Vitamin D: its role and uses in immunology. FASEB J. 2001 Dec; 15(14):2579-85. PMID: 11726533.
      View in: PubMed
    59. Cantorna MT, Munsick C, Bemiss C, Mahon BD. 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol prevents and ameliorates symptoms of experimental murine inflammatory bowel disease. J Nutr. 2000 Nov; 130(11):2648-52. PMID: 11053501.
      View in: PubMed
    60. Cantorna MT, Humpal-Winter J, DeLuca HF. In vivo upregulation of interleukin-4 is one mechanism underlying the immunoregulatory effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3). Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 May 01; 377(1):135-8. PMID: 10775452.
      View in: PubMed
    61. Cantorna MT. Vitamin D and autoimmunity: is vitamin D status an environmental factor affecting autoimmune disease prevalence? Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 2000 Mar; 223(3):230-3. PMID: 10719834.
      View in: PubMed
    62. Veldman CM, Cantorna MT, DeLuca HF. Expression of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) receptor in the immune system. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2000 Feb 15; 374(2):334-8. PMID: 10666315.
      View in: PubMed
    63. Cantorna MT, Humpal-Winter J, DeLuca HF. Dietary calcium is a major factor in 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol suppression of experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in mice. J Nutr. 1999 Nov; 129(11):1966-71. PMID: 10539770.
      View in: PubMed
    64. Cantorna MT, Hullett DA, Redaelli C, Brandt CR, Humpal-Winter J, Sollinger HW, Deluca HF. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 prolongs graft survival without compromising host resistance to infection or bone mineral density. Transplantation. 1998 Oct 15; 66(7):828-31. PMID: 9798689.
      View in: PubMed
    65. Hullett DA, Cantorna MT, Redaelli C, Humpal-Winter J, Hayes CE, Sollinger HW, Deluca HF. Prolongation of allograft survival by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Transplantation. 1998 Oct 15; 66(7):824-8. PMID: 9798688.
      View in: PubMed
    66. Cantorna MT, Woodward WD, Hayes CE, DeLuca HF. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 is a positive regulator for the two anti-encephalitogenic cytokines TGF-beta 1 and IL-4. J Immunol. 1998 Jun 01; 160(11):5314-9. PMID: 9605130.
      View in: PubMed
    67. Cantorna MT, Hayes CE, DeLuca HF. 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol inhibits the progression of arthritis in murine models of human arthritis. J Nutr. 1998 Jan; 128(1):68-72. PMID: 9430604.
      View in: PubMed
    68. Hayes CE, Cantorna MT, DeLuca HF. Vitamin D and multiple sclerosis. Proc Soc Exp Biol Med. 1997 Oct; 216(1):21-7. PMID: 9316607.
      View in: PubMed
    69. Cantorna MT, Hayes CE. Vitamin A deficiency exacerbates murine Lyme arthritis. J Infect Dis. 1996 Oct; 174(4):747-51. PMID: 8843212.
      View in: PubMed
    70. Cantorna MT, Hayes CE, DeLuca HF. 1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 reversibly blocks the progression of relapsing encephalomyelitis, a model of multiple sclerosis. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jul 23; 93(15):7861-4. PMID: 8755567; PMCID: PMC38839.
    71. Cantorna MT, Nashold FE, Chun TY, Hayes CE. Vitamin A down-regulation of IFN-gamma synthesis in cloned mouse Th1 lymphocytes depends on the CD28 costimulatory pathway. J Immunol. 1996 Apr 15; 156(8):2674-9. PMID: 8609382.
      View in: PubMed
    72. Cantorna MT, Nashold FE, Hayes CE. Vitamin A deficiency results in a priming environment conducive for Th1 cell development. Eur J Immunol. 1995 Jun; 25(6):1673-9. PMID: 7614995.
      View in: PubMed
    73. Cantorna MT, Nashold FE, Hayes CE. In vitamin A deficiency multiple mechanisms establish a regulatory T helper cell imbalance with excess Th1 and insufficient Th2 function. J Immunol. 1994 Feb 15; 152(4):1515-22. PMID: 8120366.
      View in: PubMed
    74. Cantorna MT, Balish E. Acquired immunity to systemic candidiasis in immunodeficient mice. J Infect Dis. 1991 Nov; 164(5):936-43. PMID: 1940472.
      View in: PubMed
    75. Cantorna MT, Balish E. Role of CD4+ lymphocytes in resistance to mucosal candidiasis. Infect Immun. 1991 Jul; 59(7):2447-55. PMID: 1675629; PMCID: PMC258030.
    76. Cantorna M, Mook D, Balish E. Resistance of congenitally immunodeficient gnotobiotic mice to vaginal candidiasis. Infect Immun. 1990 Nov; 58(11):3813-5. PMID: 2228251; PMCID: PMC313734.
    77. Cantorna MT, Balish E. Mucosal and systemic candidiasis in congenitally immunodeficient mice. Infect Immun. 1990 Apr; 58(4):1093-100. PMID: 2180820; PMCID: PMC258587.
    78. Cantorna MT, Balish E. Inability of human clinical strains of Helicobacter pylori to colonize the alimentary tract of germfree rodents. Can J Microbiol. 1990 Apr; 36(4):237-41. PMID: 2357642.
      View in: PubMed
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