Link Between Prostate Cancer and Vitamin D

Recently University of Colorado Cancer Center presented a study in journal Prostate that provides powerful proof that inflammation may be the connection among Vitamin D and prostate cancer. Particularly, the research reveals that the gene GDF-15, identified to be upregulated by Vitamin D, is especially missing in samples of human prostate cancer driven by inflammation.

In a recent study investigators identified that that down-regulation of the gene GDF-15 may lead to inflammation and thus push prostate cancer.
In a recent study investigators identified that that down-regulation of the gene GDF-15 may lead to inflammation and thus push prostate cancer.

When you take Vitamin D and place it on prostate cancer cells, it prevents their development. But it has not been verified as an anti-cancer agent. We desired to understand what genes Vitamin D is switching on or off in prostate cancer to offer new goals,” says James R. Lambert, investigator at the CU Cancer Center.

Since showing that Vitamin D up-regulates the expression of GDF-15, Lambert and co-workers, which includes Scott Lucia, wondered if this gene might be a mechanism via which Vitamin D works in prostate cancer. In the beginning it looked as if the answer was no.

“We believed there may be great amounts of GDF-15 in usual tissue and minimal levels in prostate cancer, but we identified that in a large cohort of human prostate tissue samples, appearance of GDF-15 did not track with either normal or cancerous prostate tissue,” Lambert claims.

But then the group recognized an exciting pattern: GDF-15 was consistently low in samples of prostate tissue that contained inflammation.

Lambert says “Inflammation is believed to drive several cancers which includes prostate, gastric and colon. For that reason, GDF-15 may be a good thing in maintaining prostate tissue healthy — it suppresses inflammation, which is a bad actor possibly driving prostate cancer”.

The research used a innovative computer algorithm to evaluate immunohistochemical (IHC) data, a process that in earlier research had been done somewhat subjectively by pathologists. With this new method, Lucia, Lambert and co-workers were capable to evaluate the expression of the GDF-15 protein and inflammatory cells by IHC staining on slides obtained from these human prostate samples.

In addition motivating is that the gene GDF-15 was proven to reduce inflammation by suppressing another target, NFkB. This target, NFkB, has been the emphasis of many earlier studies in which it has been proven to promote inflammation and play a role to tumor formation and growth; however, scientists have formerly been incapable to drug NFkB to reduce its tumor-promoting behavior.

“There’s been a lot of work on suppressing NFkB,” says Lambert. “Now from this beginning point of Vitamin D in prostate cancer, we have come a long way in the direction of knowing how we might use GDF-15 to target NFkB, which may have implications in cancer forms far beyond prostate.”

Recently Clinical Research Society published an article about association between Vitamin D levels and asthma attacks and how vitamin d deficiency leads to frequent asthma attacks with title Link Between Asthma and Vitamin D Deficiency.