Much of the action of vitamin D occurs through vitamin D receptors (VDRs).The hormonal version of vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D, acts as the key that activates the VDR, which then controls the expression of up to 2000 genes, upregulating about two thirds, downregulating about one third.
VDRs are present in different varieties or alleles. If it is found that different alleles are related to disease risk, then that is reasonably good evidence that vitamin D affects the disease outcome.
A number of other mechanisms have been identified by which vitamin D reduces the risk of cancer, including regulation of cell growth, differentiation, apoptosis and a wide range of cellular mechanisms central to the development of cancer34, and reduced risk of angiogenesis and metastasis5.
A hypothesis regarding the role of vitamin D in reducing risk of cancer incidence and progression was recently proposed. It has seven phases: disjunction, initiation, natural selection, overgrowth, metastasis, involution, and transition (abbreviated DINOMIT)6.
This mechanism notes that vitamin D is a necessary co-factor for the expression of proteins that hold cells together (e.g., E-cadherin) and that mediate intercellular communication, both of which are important for restraining tissue growth and could function not only in cancer initiation, but in the control of metastasis. This hypothesis has been supported for melanoma7.
Page last edited: 18 July 2011
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