Intestinal epithelial vitamin D receptor deletion leads to defective autophagy in colitis

Shaoping Wu, Yong Guo Zhang, Rong Lu, Yinglin Xia, David Zhou, Elaine O. Petrof, Erika C. Claud, Di Chen, Eugene B. Chang, Geert Carmeliet, Jun Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

244 Scopus citations


Objective Vitamin D and the vitamin D receptor (VDR) appear to be important immunological regulators of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). Defective autophagy has also been implicated in IBD, where interestingly, polymorphisms of genes such as ATG16L1 have been associated with increased risk. Although vitamin D, the microbiome and autophagy are all involved in pathogenesis of IBD, it remains unclear whether these processes are related or function independently. Design We investigated the effects and mechanisms of intestinal epithelial VDR in healthy and inflamed states using cell culture models, a conditional VDR knockout mouse model (VDRδIEC), colitis models and human samples. Results: Absence of intestinal epithelial VDR affects microbial assemblage and increases susceptibility to dextran sulfate sodium-induced colitis. Intestinal epithelial VDR downregulates expressions of ATG16L1 and lysozyme, and impairs antimicrobial function of Paneth cells. Gain and loss-of-function assays showed that VDR levels regulate ATG16L1 and lysozyme at the transcriptional and translational levels. Moreover, low levels of intestinal epithelial VDR correlated with reduced ATG16L1 and representation by intestinal Bacteroides in patients with IBD. Administration of the butyrate (a fermentation product of gut microbes) increases intestinal VDR expression and suppresses inflammation in a colitis model. Conclusions: Our study demonstrates fundamental relationship between VDR, autophagy and gut microbial assemblage that is essential for maintaining intestinal homeostasis, but also in contributing to the pathophysiology of IBD. These insights can be leveraged to define therapeutic targets for restoring VDR expression and function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1082-1094
Number of pages13
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015


Dive into the research topics of 'Intestinal epithelial vitamin D receptor deletion leads to defective autophagy in colitis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this