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Prostate. 2011 Jun 15;71(9):1012-21. doi: 10.1002/pros.21316. Epub 2010 Dec 28.

Vitamin D deficiency promotes prostate cancer growth in bone.

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Bone Research Program, ANZAC Research Institute, University of Sydney, Concord, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



Vitamin D is considered as an important determinant of bone turnover as well as cancer growth. Using a murine model of bone metastasis, we investigated the effect of vitamin D deficiency on prostate cancer cell growth in bone.


Three-week-old male nude mice were fed either normal chow (control) or a diet deficient in vitamin D. The latter diet resulted in severe hypovitaminosis D within 6 weeks. At this point of time, 5 × 10(4)  cells of the prostate cancer cell line, PC-3, were injected either into the bone marrow (tibia) or subcutaneously into soft tissues. Osteoprotegerin (OPG) was co-administered in subgroups of mice to suppress bone remodeling. Osteolytic lesions were monitored by serial X-ray, while soft tissue tumor growth was measured by caliper. All tissues were analyzed by micro-CT and histology at endpoint.


Bone turnover was significantly accelerated in vitamin D deficient compared to vitamin D sufficient mice from week 6 onwards. Intra-tibially implanted PC-3 cells resulted in mixed osteolytic and osteosclerotic lesion. At endpoint, osteolytic and osteosclerotic lesion areas, total tumor area, and tumor mitotic activity were all significantly increased in vitamin D deficient mice compared to controls. Regardless of diet, OPG reduced bone turnover, total tumor, and osteosclerotic area as well as tumor mitotic activity, while promoting cell apoptosis. In contrast, vitamin D deficiency did not alter tumor growth in soft tissues.


Vitamin D deficiency stimulates prostate cancer growth in bone through modulating the bone microenvironment.

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