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Scand J Gastroenterol. 2004 Sep;39(9):882-5.

Vitamins A and D but not E and K decreased the cell number in human pancreatic cancer cell lines.

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Department of Medicine, Malmö University Hospital, SE-205 02 Malmö, Sweden.



The four fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K have been tested in experimental and human studies to assess their influence on the growth of cancer cells of different origins. Receptors for vitamin A and D have been detected on pancreatic cancer cells, and analogues of these reduced the cell number in vitro. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the effect of fat-soluble vitamins on the growth of pancreatic cancer cells.


The seven cell lines used were established from patients operated on for pancreatic adenocarcinoma. The effect of incubation with the vitamin A analogues all-trans-retinoic acid (atRA;tretinoin) and 9-cis-retinoic acid (9-cis-RA), the synthetic vitamin D analogue EB 1089, vitamin E succinate and K on the cell number was examined by the XTT method.


The vitamin A and D analogues decreased the pancreatic cancer cell number when high concentrations of 10 - 10 M were administered. A combination of retinoids and the vitamin D analogue EB 1089 did not enhance the effect. Vitamin E succinate inhibited cell growth to a small extent (maximal 26%) in 3 out of 7 cell lines, whereas vitamin K increased the pancreatic cancer cell number in 3 out of 7 cell lines.


High concentrations of vitamin A and D analogues decreased the cell number in pancreatic cancer cell lines. Vitamin E succinate and K did not have this effect. In the treatment of pancreatic cancer, further exploration of vitamin D analogues could be fruitful.

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