Vitamin D in autophagy signaling for health and diseases: Insights on potential mechanisms and future perspectives

J Nutr Biochem. 2022 Jan:99:108841. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2021.108841. Epub 2021 Aug 14.


Vitamin D regulates the pleiotropic effect to maintain cellular homeostasis and epidemiological evidence establishes an association between vitamin D deficiency and various human diseases. Here, the role of autophagy, the cellular self-degradation process, in vitamin D-dependent function is documented in different cellular settings and discussed the molecular aspects for treating chronic inflammatory, infectious diseases, and cancer. Vitamin D activates autophagy through a genomic and non-genomic signaling pathway to influence a wide variety of physiological functions of different body organs along with bone health and calcium metabolism. Moreover, it induces autophagy as a protective mechanism to inhibit oxidative stress and apoptosis to regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and immune modulation. Furthermore, vitamin D and its receptor regulate autophagy signaling to control inflammation and host immunity by activating antimicrobial defense mechanisms. Vitamin D has been revealed as a potent anticancer agent and induces autophagy to increase the response to radiation and chemotherapeutic drugs for potential cancer therapy. Increasing vitamin D levels in the human body through timely exposure to sunlight or vitamin D supplements could activate autophagy as part of the homeostasis mechanism to prevent multiple human diseases and aging-associated dysfunctions.

Keywords: Autophagy; Cancer; Immunity; Inflammation; Oxidative stress; Vitamin D.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Autophagy / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements / analysis
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Vitamin D / administration & dosage*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / physiopathology*


  • Vitamin D