A new study published in the journal Prostate concluded that inflammation may be the link between Vitamin D and prostate cancer. Specifically the study demonstrated that the gene GDF-15, known to be upregulated by Vitamin D, is missing in samples of human prostate cancer driven by inflammation. The researchers wanted to determine what genes Vitamin D is turning off in prostate cancer because it was known that putting vitamin D on prostate cancer cells inhibits their growth but has not been declared an anticancer agent.
The researchers said, ” We thought there might be high levels of GDF-15 in normal tissue and low in prostate cancer, but we 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.”
They then discovered that GDF-15 was uniformly low in samples of prostate tissue containing inflammation. They said, “Inflammation is thought to drive many cancers including prostate, gastric and colon. Therefore, GDF-15 may be a good thing in keeping prostate tissue healthy–it suppresses inflammation, which is a bad actor potentially driving prostate cancer.”
They also found that the gene GDF-15 suppresses inflammation by inhibiting another target, NFkB that has been shown to promote inflammation and contribute to tumor formation in previous studies. Research is ongoing.