Scientists find missing link between Vitamin D, prostate cancer

A new research has revealed about the missing link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer, suggesting that Vitamin D suppresses inflammation, which is a bad actor potentially driving prostate cancer.

ANI| Updated: Oct 23, 2014, 12:14 PM IST

Washington: A new research has revealed about the missing link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer, suggesting that Vitamin D suppresses inflammation, which is a bad actor potentially driving prostate cancer.

The study at the University of Colorado Cancer Center 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.

Researcher James R. Lambert said that when Vitamin D is taken and put on prostate cancer cells, it inhibits their growth, but it hasn't been proven as an anti-cancer agent and so they wanted to understand what genes Vitamin D is turning on or off in prostate cancer to offer new targets.

Since demonstrating that Vitamin D upregulates the expression of GDF-15, researchers wondered if this gene might be a mechanism through which Vitamin D works in prostate cancer.

Lambert added that they thought there might be high levels of GDF-15 in normal tissue and low levels in prostate cancer, but 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.

But then the team noticed an interesting pattern, where GDF-15 was uniformly low in samples of prostate tissue that contained inflammation, which according to Lambert is thought to drive many cancers including prostate, gastric and colon, suggesting GDF-15 may be a good thing in keeping prostate tissue healthy.

Additionally encouraging is that the gene GDF-15 was shown to suppress inflammation by inhibiting another target, NFkB, which has been previously shown to promote inflammation and contribute to tumor formation and growth.

The study is published in the journal Prostate.