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Autophagy. 2016 Jun 2;12(6):1057-8. doi: 10.1080/15548627.2015.1072670. Epub 2015 Jul 28.

VDR/vitamin D receptor regulates autophagic activity through ATG16L1.

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a Department of Biochemistry , Rush University, Cohn Research Building , Chicago , IL , USA.


The Paneth cell is a unique intestinal epithelial cell that can sense the gut microbiome and secrete anti-microbial peptides, thereby playing critical roles in the maintenance of homeostasis at the intestinal-microbial interface. These roles in regulating innate immunity and intestinal microbial ecology are dependent on a functional autophagy pathway through ATG16L1. ATG16L1 is a regulator for autophagy and a risk gene for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). We demonstrated that a low VDR/vitamin D receptor level in the intestine is associated with abnormal Paneth cells, impaired autophagy function, and imbalanced bacterial profile (dysbiosis), accompanied by a reduction of ATG16L1. We determined that VDR transcriptionally regulates ATG16L1 as a VDR target gene. Administration of the bacterial product butyrate increases intestinal VDR expression and suppresses inflammation in a colitis model. Thus, our study indicates that VDR may be a determinant of IBD risk through its actions on ATG16L1. These insights can be leveraged to define therapeutic targets for restoring Paneth cells and autophagy through VDR in chronic inflammation. It may also have applicability for infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases associated with skin or lung, where the host is in contact with bacteria.


ATG16L1; Paneth cells; bacteria; dysbiosis; inflammation; nuclear receptor; transcriptional factor; vitamin D; vitamin D receptor; vitamin D response element

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