Renal cancerHow does vitamin D work?

Vitamin D may reduce the risk of cancer by regulating cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and though effects on gene expression

A number of mechanisms have been identified by which vitamin D reduces the risk of renal cancer.  These include effects such as regulation of cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and a wide range of cellular mechanisms central to the development of cancer1, increased absorption of calcium2, reduced angiogenesis around tumors3 and reduced metastasis4, and prevention of epithelial cell disjunction5.

Calcium intake has been found correlated with reduced risk of renal cancer6

Much of the beneficial effect of vitamin D in reducing the risk of renal and other cancers is through the action of the active metabolite of vitamin D, 1,25-hydroxyvitamin D, on vitamin D receptors, which control expression of hundreds of genes7 8 6 9.

Individuals with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome have a high risk of developing kidney cancer, because they inherit a mutation in the VHL protein that causes the protein's normal function to be lost or altered. VHL is a tumor suppressor gene that inhibits production of Hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF)10. HIF is essential for renal cancer formation and progression, and activated vitamin D has in vitro been shown to decrease the expression of HIF and inhibit angiogenesis through  HIF-dependent upregulation of VEGF11. This anti-neoplastic effect is also found in vivo studies, where induced tumors were larger and had higher levels of HIF in mice lacking VDR (VDR knockout mice) compared to controls12. Furthermore, 1,25(OH)2D3  treatment of mice with kidney cancer increased survival, and inhibited tumour growth, angiogenesis and metastasis3 13.

Page last edited: 01 July 2011


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