• prostate cancer;
  • bone metastasis;
  • cancer growth;
  • vitamin D deficiency;
  • osteoclasts



Vitamin D is considered as an important determinant of bone turnover as well as cancer growth. Using a murine model of bone metastasis, we investigated the effect of vitamin D deficiency on prostate cancer cell growth in bone.


Three-week-old male nude mice were fed either normal chow (control) or a diet deficient in vitamin D. The latter diet resulted in severe hypovitaminosis D within 6 weeks. At this point of time, 5 × 104 cells of the prostate cancer cell line, PC-3, were injected either into the bone marrow (tibia) or subcutaneously into soft tissues. Osteoprotegerin (OPG) was co-administered in subgroups of mice to suppress bone remodeling. Osteolytic lesions were monitored by serial X-ray, while soft tissue tumor growth was measured by caliper. All tissues were analyzed by micro-CT and histology at endpoint.


Bone turnover was significantly accelerated in vitamin D deficient compared to vitamin D sufficient mice from week 6 onwards. Intra-tibially implanted PC-3 cells resulted in mixed osteolytic and osteosclerotic lesion. At endpoint, osteolytic and osteosclerotic lesion areas, total tumor area, and tumor mitotic activity were all significantly increased in vitamin D deficient mice compared to controls. Regardless of diet, OPG reduced bone turnover, total tumor, and osteosclerotic area as well as tumor mitotic activity, while promoting cell apoptosis. In contrast, vitamin D deficiency did not alter tumor growth in soft tissues.


Vitamin D deficiency stimulates prostate cancer growth in bone through modulating the bone microenvironment. Prostate 71: 1012–1021, 2011. © 2010 Wiley-Liss, Inc.