25-Hydroxyvitamin D3, the prohormone of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, inhibits the proliferation of primary prostatic epithelial cells

Andrea M. Barreto, Gary G. Schwartz, Ralph Woodruff, Scott D. Cramer

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141 Scopus citations


The hormonal metabolite of vitamin D, 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D3] is known to inhibit the proliferation of prostatic epithelial cells. This has stimulated interest in vitamin D compounds as therapeutic agents for prostate cancer. However, the therapeutic use of 1,25(OH)2D3 is limited because elevations in serum 1,25(OH)2D3 can cause dangerous elevations in serum calcium levels. We wondered whether the prohormone of 1,25(OH)2D3, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25-OH-D3), which is much less calcemic, could also achieve antiproliferative effects in prostatic cells. 25-OH-D3 is converted to 1,25(OH)2D3 by the mitochondrial enzyme 1-α- hydroxylase. We have recently shown that human prostatic cells also possess significant 1-α-hydroxylase activity (Schwartz et al., Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev., 7: 391-395, 1998). We studied 1-α-hydroxylase gene expression in four strains of primary human prostatic epithelial cells by reverse transcription PCR amplification (RT-PCR) of 1-α-hydroxylase. Human prostatic stromal cells were negative for 1-α-hydroxylase by RT-PCR. This led us to hypothesize that 25-OH-D3 would inhibit the proliferation of prostatic epithelial cells because 25-OH-D3 would be converted to 1,25(OH)2D3 intracellularly. We studied the effects of 25-OH-D3 and 1,25(OH)2D3 on the proliferation of prostatic epithelial cells using high density growth and clonal growth assays on two different primary cell strains derived from normal human prostatic peripheral zone. 25-OH-D3 and 1,25(OH)2D3 each inhibited growth in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Growth inhibition was evident at 1 nM, and maximal inhibition was observed at 100 nM within 10-12 days of exposure. The potencies of 25-OH-D3 and 1,25(OH)2D3 were not significantly different. These data demonstrate that 25-OH-D3, which previously was thought to have little biological activity, can become a potent antiproliferative hormone for prostatic cells that express 1-α-hydroxylase. Because 25-OH-D3 exhibits similar potency to 1,25(OH)2D3 but is less calcemic, 25-OH-D3 may offer a safer option than 1,25(OH)2D3 for prostate cancer therapy. Moreover, because 25-OH-D3 is produced endogenously from vitamin D, these findings support a potential role for vitamin D in the chemoprevention of prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)265-270
Number of pages6
JournalCancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Oncology


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