Vitamin D is an important factor in estrogen biosynthesis of both female and male gonads

Endocrinology. 2000 Apr;141(4):1317-24. doi: 10.1210/endo.141.4.7403.


In the present study, the role of vitamin D in the regulation of estrogen synthesis in gonads was investigated. Vitamin D receptor null mutant mice showed gonadal insufficiencies. Uterine hypoplasia and impaired folliculogenesis were observed in the female, and decreased sperm count and decreased motility with histological abnormality of the testis were observed in the male. The aromatase activities in these mice were low in the ovary, testis, and epididymis at 24%, 58%, and 35% of the wild-type values, respectively. The gene expression of aromatase was also reduced in these organs. Elevated serum levels of LH and FSH revealed hypergonadotropic hypogonadism in these mice. The gene expressions of estrogen receptor alpha and beta were normal in gonads in these mice. Supplementation of estradiol normalized histological abnormality in the male gonads as well as in the female. Calcium supplementation increased aromatase activity and partially corrected the hypogonadism. When the serum calcium concentration was kept in the normal range by supplementation, the aromatase activity in the ovary increased to 60% of the wild-type level, but LH and FSH levels were still elevated. These results indicated that vitamin D is essential for full gonadal function in both sexes. The action of vitamin D on estrogen biosynthesis was partially explained by maintaining calcium homeostasis; however, direct regulation of the expression of the aromatase gene should not be neglected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aromatase / genetics
  • Aromatase / metabolism
  • Calcium / pharmacology
  • Estradiol / blood
  • Estradiol / pharmacology
  • Estrogens / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone / blood
  • Gene Expression
  • Genitalia, Female / metabolism*
  • Genitalia, Male / abnormalities
  • Genitalia, Male / metabolism*
  • Genitalia, Male / pathology
  • Luteinizing Hormone / blood
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Vitamin D / physiology*


  • Estrogens
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • Estradiol
  • Luteinizing Hormone
  • Follicle Stimulating Hormone
  • Aromatase
  • Calcium