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Open Access Research article

1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D-mediated orchestration of anticancer, transcript-level effects in the immortalized, non-transformed prostate epithelial cell line, RWPE1

Pavlo L Kovalenko1, Zhentao Zhang1, Min Cui1, Steve K Clinton2 and James C Fleet1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Foods and Nutrition and the Interdepartmental Nutrition Program, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059 USA

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Hematology and Oncology and the Comprehensive Cancer Center, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210 USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:26  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-26

Published: 13 January 2010



Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer mortality among US men. Epidemiological evidence suggests that high vitamin D status protects men from prostate cancer and the active form of vitamin D, 1α,25 dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D) has anti-cancer effects in cultured prostate cells. Still, the molecular mechanisms and the gene targets for vitamin D-mediated prostate cancer prevention are unknown.


We examined the effect of 1,25(OH)2D (+/- 100 nM, 6, 24, 48 h) on the transcript profile of proliferating RWPE1 cells, an immortalized, non-tumorigenic prostate epithelial cell line that is growth arrested by 1,25(OH)2D (Affymetrix U133 Plus 2.0, n = 4/treatment per time and dose). Our analysis revealed many transcript level changes at a 5% false detection rate: 6 h, 1571 (61% up), 24 h, 1816 (60% up), 48 h, 3566 (38% up). 288 transcripts were regulated similarly at all time points (182 up, 80 down) and many of the promoters for these transcripts contained putative vitamin D response elements. Functional analysis by pathway or Gene Set Analysis revealed early suppression of WNT, Notch, NF-kB, and IGF1 signaling. Transcripts related to inflammation were suppressed at 6 h (e.g. IL-1 pathway) and suppression of proinflammatory pathways continued at later time points (e.g. IL-17 and IL-6 pathways). There was also evidence for induction of anti-angiogenic pathways and induction of transcripts for protection from oxidative stress or maintenance of cell redox homeostasis at 6 h.


Our data reveal of large number of potential new, direct vitamin D target genes relevant to prostate cancer prevention. In addition, our data suggests that rather than having a single strong regulatory effect, vitamin D orchestrates a pattern of changes within prostate epithelial cells that limit or slow carcinogenesis.