Vitamin D: a hormone for all seasons--how much is enough?

Clin Biochem Rev. 2005 Feb;26(1):21-32.


Further understanding of its endocrine mechanisms and increased evidence for autocrine/paracrine actions has recently enhanced our knowledge of the biological activities of the vitamin D metabolite 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D). The recognition of the contribution of vitamin D depletion to increased risk of osteoporosis, and most importantly the risk of hip fracture in the elderly, has increased the clinical significance of clinical laboratory testing for vitamin D status. Research has revealed that at least three genes contribute to vitamin D activity within tissues. These are the vitamin D receptor as well as two major vitamin D metabolising enzymes, CYP27B1, responsible for synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D and CYP24, responsible for catabolism of vitamin D metabolites. Current research focuses on the contribution of vitamin D metabolism to increasing vitamin D activity. This is of particular interest in bone forming cells where increased 1,25(OH)2D activity has been proposed to contribute to strengthening the skeleton. As well, solid tumours such as prostate, breast and colon cancers are another increasing area of vitamin D research. The major issues for the clinical laboratory in vitamin D testing include defining clinical decision limits for the interpretation of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) levels and improving the precision and accuracy of this assay.