The Endocrine Vitamin D System in the Gut

Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2017 Sep 15;453:79-87. doi: 10.1016/j.mce.2016.11.028. Epub 2016 Nov 29.


The active vitamin D metabolite 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) has important regulatory actions in the gut through endocrine and probably also intracrine, autocrine and paracrine mechanisms. By activating the vitamin D receptor (VDR), which is expressed at a high level in the small intestine and colon, 1,25(OH)2D3 regulates numerous genes that control gut physiology and homeostasis. 1,25(OH)2D3 is a major responsible for epithelial barrier function and calcium and phosphate absorption, and the host's defense against pathogens and the inflammatory response by several types of secretory and immune cells. Moreover, recent data suggest that 1,25(OH)2D3 has a regulatory effect on the gut microbiota and stromal fibroblasts. Many studies have linked vitamin D deficiency to inflammatory bowel diseases (ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease) and to an increased risk of colorectal cancer, and the possible use of VDR agonists to prevent or treat these diseases is receiving increasing interest.

Keywords: Colorectal cancer; Gut homeostasis; Gut microbiota; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorption, Physicochemical
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / immunology
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Endocrine System / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / immunology
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / metabolism
  • Phosphates / metabolism
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / immunology
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / immunology*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*


  • Phosphates
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • VDR protein, human
  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium