Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
New Roles for Vitamin D Superagonists. From COVID.pdf (1.35 MB)
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New roles for vitamin D superagonists: from COVID to cancer

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journal contribution
posted on 2022-02-16, 11:28 authored by David J Easty, Christine J. Farr, Bryan HennessyBryan Hennessy
Vitamin D is a potent steroid hormone that induces widespread changes in gene expression and controls key biological pathways. Here we review pathophysiology of vitamin D with particular reference to COVID-19 and pancreatic cancer. Utility as a therapeutic agent is limited by hypercalcemic effects and attempts to circumvent this problem have used vitamin D superagonists, with increased efficacy and reduced calcemic effect. A further caveat is that vitamin D mediates multiple diverse effects. Some of these (anti-fibrosis) are likely beneficial in patients with COVID-19 and pancreatic cancer, whereas others (reduced immunity), may be beneficial through attenuation of the cytokine storm in patients with advanced COVID-19, but detrimental in pancreatic cancer. Vitamin D superagonists represent an untapped resource for development of effective therapeutic agents. However, to be successful this approach will require agonists with high cell-tissue specificity.



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Published Citation

Easty DJ, Farr CJ, Hennessy BT. New roles for vitamin D superagonists: from COVID to cancer. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2021;12:644298

Publication Date

31 March 2021

PubMed ID



  • Molecular Medicine


Frontiers Media S.A


  • Published Version (Version of Record)