The in vitro evaluation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and 19-nor-1α,25- dihydroxyvitamin D2 as therapeutic agents for prostate cancer

Tai C. Chen, Gary G. Schwartz, Kerry L. Burnstein, Bal L. Lokeshwar, Michael F. Holick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


Prostate cancer cells contain specific receptors [vitamin D receptors (VDRs)] for 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1α,25(OH)2D3), which is known to inhibit the proliferation and invasiveness of these cells. These findings support the use of 1α,25(OH)2D3 for prostate cancer therapy. However, because 1α,25(OH)2D3 can cause hypercalcemia, analogues of 1α,25(OH)2D3 that are less calcemic but that exhibit potent antiproliferative activity would be attractive as therapeutic agents. We investigated the effects of two different types of less calcemic vitamin D compounds, 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 [25(OH)D3] and 19-nor-1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D2 [19-nor-1,25(OH)2D2], and compared their activity to 1α,25(OH)2D3 on (a) the proliferation of primary cultures and cell lines of human prostate cancer cells; and (b) the transactivation of the VDRs in the androgen-insensitive PC-3 cancer cell line stably transfected with VDR (PC-3/VDR). 19-nor-1α,25(OH)2D2, an analogue of 1α,25(OH)2D3 that was originally developed for the treatment of parathyroid disease, has been shown to be less calcemic than 1α,25(OH)2D3 in clinical trials. Additionally, we recently showed that human prostate cells in primary culture possess 25(OH)D3-1α-hydroxylase, an enzyme that hydroxylates the inactive prohormone, 25(OH)D3, to the active hormone, 1α,25(OH)2D2, intracellularly. We reasoned that the hormone that is formed intracellularly would inhibit prostate cell proliferation in an autocrine fashion. We found that 1α,25(OH)2D3 and 19-nor-1α,25(OH)2D2 caused similar dose-dependent inhibition in the cell lines and primary cultures in the [3H]thymidine incorporation assay and that both compounds were significantly more active in the primary cultures than in LNCaP cells. Likewise, 25(OH)D3 had inhibitory effects comparable to those of 1α,25(OH)2D3 in the primary cultures. In the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene transactivation assay in PC-3/VDR cells, 1α,25(OH)2D3 and 19-nor-1α,25(OH)2D2 caused similar increases in CAT activity between 10-11 and 10-9 M. Incubation of PC-3/VDR cells with 5 x 10-8 25(OH)D3 induced a 29-fold increase in CAT activity, similar to that induced by 10-8 M 1α,25(OH)2D3. In conclusion, our data indicate that 25(OH)D3 and 19-nor-1α,25(OH)2D2 represent two different solutions to the problem of hypercalcemia associated with vitamin D-based therapies: 25(OH)D3 requires the presence of 1α-hydroxylase, whereas 19-nor- 1α,25(OH)2D2 does not. Both drugs are approved for human use and may be good candidates for human clinical trials in prostate cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)901-908
Number of pages8
JournalClinical Cancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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