Editors' ChoiceCancer Immunology

Vitamin D lends a helping hand

Sci. Signal.  14 Apr 2015:
Vol. 8, Issue 372, pp. ec95
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aab3221

In theory, macrophages and other immune cells should be able to kill tumor cells. However, cancer cells can escape from immune surveillance, and tumor-associated macrophages usually do not kill them. Bruns et al. showed that vitamin D promoted the antitumor activity of macrophages and stimulated their production of cathelicidin, an antimicrobial peptide that can also induce tumor cell death. The results suggest that for cancer patients who are deficient in vitamin D, providing vitamin D supplementation may be helpful in battling the disease and promoting the efficacy of antitumor therapy.

H. Bruns, M. Büttner, M. Fabri, D. Mougiakakos, J. T. Bittenbring, M. H. Hoffmann, F. Beier, S. Pasemann, R. Jitschin, A. D. Hofmann, F. Neumann, C. Daniel, A. Maurberger, B. Kempkes, K. Amann, A. Mackensen, A. Gerbitz, Vitamin D–dependent induction of cathelicidin in human macrophages results in cytotoxicity against high-grade B cell lymphoma. Sci. Transl. Med. 7, 282ra47 (2015). [Abstract]