Vitamin D Deficiency Promotes Human Breast Cancer Growth in a Murine Model of Bone Metastasis


Ooi, L.L. and Zhou, H. and Kalak, R. and Zheng, Y. and Conigrave, A.D. and Seibel, M.J. and Dunstan, C.R.


Vitamin D exerts antiproliferative, prodifferentiation, and proapoptotic effects on nonclassic target tissues such as breast. Blood levels of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], the most sensitive indicator of vitamin D status, are inversely correlated with breast cancer risk; however, a causal relationship between vitamin D deficiency and breast cancer growth in bone has not been assessed. We examined the effect of vitamin D deficiency on the intraskeletal growth of the human breast cancer cell line MDA-MB-231-TxSA in a murine model of malignant bone lesions. Subsets of mice were treated concurrently with osteoprotegerin (OPG) to abrogate bone resorption. Outcomes were assessed by repeated radiographic and end-point micro–computed tomography and histologic analyses. Mice weaned onto a vitamin D–free diet developed vitamin D deficiency within 4 weeks [mean ± SE serum 25(OH)D: 11.5 ± 0.5 nmol/L], which was sustained throughout the study and was associated with secondary hyperparathyroidism and accelerated bone turnover. Osteolytic lesions appeared earlier and were significantly larger in vitamin D–deficient than in vitamin D–sufficient mice after 2 weeks (radiographic osteolysis: +121.5%; histologic tumor area: +314%; P < 0.05). Although OPG treatment reduced the size of radiographic osteolyses and tumor area in both groups, tumors remained larger in OPG-treated vitamin D–deficient compared with OPG-treated vitamin D–sufficient mice (0.53 ± 0.05 mm2 versus 0.19 ± 0.05 mm2; P < 0.05). We conclude that vitamin D deficiency promotes the growth of human breast cancer cells in the bones of nude mice. These effects are partly mediated through secondary changes in the bone microenvironment, along with direct effects of vitamin D on tumor growth.