LeukemiaHow does vitamin D work?

From the seasonality of birth or incidence, one way vitamin D might reduce the risk of some types of leukemia is by preventing some infectious diseases, such as influenza.

Another way vitamin D works to reduce the risk of cancer is to cause cells to become the appropriate cell for the organ the cell finds itself.

In 1981, the first laboratory study involving vitamin D and cancer cells found that the active form of vitamin D, 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25(OH)2D], was able to induce mouse myeloid leukemia cells to differentiate into macrophages1.

Primitive myeloid leukemic cell lines can be driven to differentiate to monocyte-like cells by 1,25(OH)2D2.

Page last edited: 18 July 2011


  1. Abe, E. Miyaura, C. Sakagami, H. Takeda, M. Konno, K. Yamazaki, T. Yoshiki, S. Suda, T. Differentiation of mouse myeloid leukemia cells induced by 1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1981 Aug; 78 (8): 4990-4.
  2. Hughes, P. J. Marcinkowska, E. Gocek, E. Studzinski, G. P. Brown, G. Vitamin D3-driven signals for myeloid cell differentiation–implications for differentiation therapy. Leuk Res. 2010 May; 34 (5): 553-65.