Inflammation may be the missing link between vitamin D and prostate cancer, new study findings from the University of Colorado Cancer Center in Denver suggest.
Specifically, the study shows that the gene GDF-15, known to be upregulated by vitamin D, is notably absent in samples of human prostate cancer driven by inflammation. The study was recently published in Prostate.
“When you take vitamin D and put it on prostate cancer cells, it inhibits their growth. But it hasn’t been proven as an anti-cancer agent. We wanted to understand what genes vitamin D is turning on or off in prostate cancer to offer new targets,” said first author James R. Lambert, PhD, who worked on the study with Scott Lucia, MD, and colleagues.
Since demonstrating that vitamin D upregulates the expression of GDF-15, the researchers set out to determine if this gene might be a mechanism through which vitamin D works in prostate cancer. Initially, the answer appeared to be no.
“We thought there might be high levels of GDF-15 in normal tissue and low levels in prostate cancer, but we found that in a large cohort of human prostate tissue samples, expression of GDF-15 did not track with either normal or cancerous prostate tissue,” Dr. Lambert said in a University of Colorado news release.
But the team then noticed that GDF-15 was uniformly low in samples of prostate tissue that contained inflammation.
More on Prostate Cancer