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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2010 Feb 15;118(3):142-50. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2009.11.004. Epub 2009 Nov 17.

Vitamin D inhibition of pro-fibrotic effects of transforming growth factor beta1 in lung fibroblasts and epithelial cells.

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Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, USA. <>


The mechanisms that control fibroproliferation and matrix deposition in lung fibrosis remain unclear. We speculate that vitamin D deficiency may contribute to pulmonary fibrosis since vitamin D deficiency has been implicated in several diseases. First, we confirmed the presence of vitamin D receptors (VDRs) in cultured NIH/3T3 and lung fibroblasts. Fibroblasts transfected with a vitamin D response element-reporter construct and exposed to the active vitamin D metabolite, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), showed increased promoter activity indicating VDR functionality in these cells. Testing the effects of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) on fibroblasts treated with transforming growth factor beta1 (TGFbeta1), considered a driver of many fibrotic disorders, we found that 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) inhibited TGFbeta1-induced fibroblast proliferation in a dose-dependent fashion. 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) also inhibited TGFbeta1 stimulation of alpha-smooth muscle actin expression and polymerization and prevented the upregulation of fibronectin and collagen in TGFbeta1-treated fibroblasts. Finally, we examined how 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) affects epithelial-mesenchymal transformation of lung epithelial cells upon exposure to TGFbeta1. We showed that the TGFbeta1-induced upregulation of mesenchymal cell markers and abnormal expression of epithelial cell markers were blunted by 1,25(OH)(2)D(3). These observations suggest that under TGFbeta1 stimulation, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) inhibits the pro-fibrotic phenotype of lung fibroblasts and epithelial cells.

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