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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2002 Mar;13(3):621-9.

Synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) by human endothelial cells is regulated by inflammatory cytokines: a novel autocrine determinant of vascular cell adhesion.

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Division of Medical Sciences, The University of Birmingham, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, UK.


In addition to its calciotropic function, the secosteroid 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) (1,25(OH)(2)D(3)) has potent nonclassical effects. In particular, local production of 1,25D(3) catalyzed by the enzyme 1alpha-hydroxylase (1alpha-OHase) may act as an autocrine/paracrine immunomodulatory mechanism. To investigate the significance of this in vascular tissue the expression and function of 1alpha-OHase in human endothelial cells was characterized. Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization analyses show, for the first time, the presence of 1alpha-OHase mRNA and protein in endothelial cells from human renal arteries as well as postcapillary venules from lymphoid tissue. Reverse transcription-PCR and Western blot analyses confirmed the presence of 1alpha-OHase in primary cultures of human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVEC). Enzyme activity in HUVEC (318 +/- 56 fmoles 1,25(OH)(2)D(3)/hr/mg protein) increased after treatment with tumor necrosis factor-alpha (1054 +/- 166, P < 0.01), lipopolysaccharide (1381 +/- 88, P < 0.01), or forskolin (554 +/- 56, P < 0.05). Functional studies showed that exogenously added 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) or its precursor, 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3) (25(OH)D(3)), significantly decreased HUVEC proliferation after 72 h of treatment (33% and 11%, respectively). In addition, after 24 h treatment, both 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) and 25(OH)D(3) increased the adhesion of monocytic U937 cells to HUVEC (159% and 153%, respectively). These data indicate that human endothelia are able to produce active vitamin D. The rapid induction of endothelial 1alpha-OHase activity by inflammatory cytokines suggests a novel autocrine/paracrine role for the enzyme, possibly as a modulator of endothelial cell adhesion.

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