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Prostate. 1999 Nov 1;41(3):181-9.

Effect of prenatal vitamin D (calcitriol) exposure on the growth and development of the prostate.

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Division of Urology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.



We previously found that in the absence of testosterone (T), calcitriol promotes proliferation of normal prostatic stroma, while in the presence of T, it has a differentiating effect on prostatic epithelium. The present study was conducted to determine the effect of calcitriol exposure in utero on the postnatal development of the normal prostate.


Pregnant rats were injected subcutaneously with either 1.25 microg of calcitriol or vehicle alone on alternate days till delivery. Calcitriol-exposed and control pups were sacrificed at age 25 days (prepuberty), 63 days (postpuberty), or 102 days (adults), and their prostates and seminal vesicles were harvested and weighed.


Pups prenatally exposed to calcitriol and sacrificed before puberty (25 days) had a 35% greater mean prostatic weight than controls (0.0314 vs. 0.0422 g, P < 0.007), and calcitriol-exposed adult rats (102 days) had a 68% greater mean prostatic weight than controls (0.1365 vs. 0.2304 g, P < 0.005). No differences were observed in seminal vesicle weights, and in serum calcium and testosterone levels. A disproportionately high mortality rate from sudden death (71%) was observed at puberty in uncastrated male rats prenatally exposed to calcitriol.


These findings suggest that high-dose calcitriol exposure in utero may uniquely influence subsequent prostatic growth. Nonandrogenic steroids such as calcitriol may also be involved in genetic imprinting of the prostate.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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