Autophagy as a basis for the health-promoting effects of vitamin D

Trends Mol Med. 2010 Jul;16(7):295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2010.04.005. Epub 2010 May 18.


Autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved lysosomal self-digestion process essential for cellular homeostasis, differentiation and survival. As an adaptive response, it protects organisms against a wide range of pathologies, including cancer, infection, neurodegeneration, heart disease and ageing. Thus, compounds activating autophagy could have great potential in the prevention of common diseases. Interestingly, recent data link autophagy to two functions of the active form of vitamin D (VD): the induction of cancer cell death and the clearance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in macrophages. Because VD deficiency is associated with many pathologies resembling those induced by defective autophagy, it is tempting to speculate that autophagy plays a more general role in the multiple health-promoting effects of VD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology
  • Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Tuberculosis / pathology
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*


  • Vitamin D