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Gastroenterology. 2009 Apr;136(4):1317-27, e1-2. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2008.12.051. Epub 2008 Dec 27.

Intestinal vitamin D receptor is required for normal calcium and bone metabolism in mice.

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  • 1Department of Foods and Nutrition, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana 47906-2059, USA.



Vitamin D receptor (VDR)-knockout mice develop severe hypocalcemia and rickets, accompanied by disruption of active intestinal calcium absorption. To specifically study the effects of VDR in intestinal calcium absorption, we investigated whether restoration of intestinal VDR is sufficient to recover the phenotype of VDR-knockout mice.


We generated mice with intestine-specific transgenic expression of human VDR and crossed them to VDR knockout mice. The intestine, kidney, and bone phenotypes of the VDR- knockout mice with intestine-specific expression of human VDR (knockout/transgenic [KO/TG]) were analyzed.


Transgenic expression of VDR in the intestine of VDR-knockout mice normalized duodenal vitamin D-regulated calcium absorption as well as vitamin D-regulated calcium binding protein D9k and TRPV6 gene expression in the duodenum and proximal colon. As a result, animal growth and the serum levels of calcium and parathyroid hormone were normalized in KO/TG mice. Other phenotypes were revealed when calcium metabolism was normalized in KO/TG mice: serum 1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D levels were higher in KO/TG mice than normal mice owing to reduced renal expression of the vitamin D-degrading enzyme CYP24, urinary calcium excretion was higher and associated with lower renal calcium binding protein D9k and calcium binding protein D28k than normal mice, and bone density and volume increased in KO/TG compared with normal mice owing to increased mineral apposition rate and osteoblast number.


Intestinal VDR and vitamin D-regulated intestinal calcium absorption are critical for controlling whole-body calcium metabolism in growing mice. Normalizing intestinal calcium absorption and metabolism reveals essential roles for VDR in control of bone formation and renal control of serum 1,25(OH)2D and urinary calcium excretion.

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