The role of vitamin D in normal prostate growth and differentiation

Badrinath R. Konety, Gary G. Schwartz, James S. Acierno, Michael J. Becich, Robert H. Getzenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


Although increasing data indicate a role for vitamin D in prostate cancer, little is known about the role of this hormone in the noncancerous prostate. We examined the effect of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25 D) on the growth of noncancerous rat prostates in vivo. Rats were castrated and treated with vehicle (controls), 1,25 D, testosterone, or a combination of both hormones for 2 weeks. Histological examination of the harvested prostates revealed that 1,25 D had a selective regressive effect on epithelial cells in treated rats compared to untreated castrated rats and to normal uncastrated rats. However, 1,25 D stimulated stromal growth in the prostate. The mean prostatic weight of the vitamin D-treated rats was twice that of the untreated rats (0.13 ± SEM 0.005 g versus 0.06 ± SEM 0.006 g). The histological differences were less marked in the testosterone-supplemented animals. A greater degree of cellular differentiation was observed in the rats treated with testosterone and vitamin D compared to rats that received testosterone supplementation alone. Studies of the nuclear matrix composition revealed differences between the testosterone-supplemented and the testosterone and 1,25 D-treated rat prostates. We conclude that in the absence of testosterone, 1,25 D may exert a growth-promoting effect on the prostatic stroma in vivo. In concert with testosterone, it may play an important role in the growth and differentiation of the normal rat prostate.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1563-1570
Number of pages8
JournalCell Growth and Differentiation
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1996


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