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Open Access Research article

Vitamin D3 receptor is highly expressed in Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Christoph Renné1*, Alexander H Benz12 and Martin L Hansmann1

Author Affiliations

1 Senckenberg Institute of Pathology, University of Frankfurt, Theodor-Stern-Kai 7, 60596, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

2 Department of Pathology, University of Giessen, Langhansstrasse 10, 35392, Gießen, Germany

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BMC Cancer 2012, 12:215  doi:10.1186/1471-2407-12-215

Published: 6 June 2012



Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) is one of the most frequent lymphoma in the western world. Despite a good overall prognosis, some patients suffer relapsing tumors which are difficult to cure. Over a long period Vitamin D has been shown to be a potential treatment for cancer. Vitamin D acts via the vitamin D receptor, a nuclear receptor, acting as an inducible transcription factor. We aimed to investigate the expression of vitamin D receptor as a possible diagnostic marker and potential therapeutic target in HL as well as in B-cell derived non-Hodgkin lymphoma (B-NHL).


We used a panel of 193 formalin fixed tissues of lymphoma cases consisting of 55 cases of HL and 138 cases on several B-NHL entities.


Vitamin D receptor is strongly expressed in tumor cells of HL, regardless of the sub entity with an overall positivity of 80% of all HL cases. In contrast, only about 17% of the analyzed origin-NHL showed positivity for vitamin D receptor. The detection of nuclear localization of vitamin D receptor in the tumor cells of HL suggests activated status of the vitamin D receptor.


Our study suggests VDR as a specific marker for tumor cells of HL, but not of B-NHL subtypes. Further, the observed nuclear localization suggests an activated receptor status in tumor cells of HL. Further investigations of mutational status and functional studies may shed some light in functional relevance of vitamin D receptor signaling in HL.