A randomized clinical trial of the effects of supplemental calcium and vitamin D3 on markers of their metabolism in normal mucosa of colorectal adenoma patients

Cancer Res. 2011 Jan 15;71(2):413-23. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.CAN-10-1560. Epub 2010 Nov 17.


In cancer cell lines and rodent models, calcium and vitamin D favorably modulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis in colonic epithelia. These effects may be modulated by local expression of the calcium receptor (CaR), the vitamin D receptor (VDR), and the P450 cytochromes, CYP27B1 and CYP24A1; however, they have yet to be investigated in humans. To address this gap, we conducted a randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled 2×2 factorial clinical trial. Patients with at least one pathology-confirmed colorectal adenoma were treated with 2 g/d elemental calcium and/or 800 IU/d vitamin D3 versus placebo over 6 months (n=92; 23 per group). CaR, VDR, CYP27B1, and CYP24A1 expression and distribution in biopsies of normal appearing rectal mucosa were detected by standardized, automated immunohistochemistry and quantified by image analysis. In the calcium-supplemented group, CaR expression increased 27% (P=0.03) and CYP24A1 expression decreased 21% (P=0.79). In the vitamin D3-supplemented group, CaR expression increased 39% (P=0.01) and CYP27B1 expression increased 159% (P=0.06). In patients supplemented with both calcium and vitamin D3, VDR expression increased 19% (P=0.13) and CaR expression increased 24% (P=0.05). These results provide mechanistic support for further investigation of calcium and vitamin D3 as chemopreventive agents against colorectal neoplasms, and CaR, VDR, CYP27B1, and CYP24A1 as modifiable, preneoplastic risk biomarkers for colorectal neoplasms.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 1-alpha-Hydroxylase / biosynthesis
  • Adenoma / blood
  • Adenoma / drug therapy*
  • Adenoma / metabolism
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Calcium / administration & dosage*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / blood
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / prevention & control*
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Intestinal Mucosa / drug effects
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Precancerous Conditions / blood
  • Precancerous Conditions / drug therapy
  • Precancerous Conditions / metabolism
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / biosynthesis
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing / biosynthesis
  • Steroid Hydroxylases / biosynthesis
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives
  • Vitamin D / blood
  • Vitamin D3 24-Hydroxylase


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Receptors, Calcium-Sensing
  • Vitamin D
  • Cholecalciferol
  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • CYP24A1 protein, human
  • Vitamin D3 24-Hydroxylase
  • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 1-alpha-Hydroxylase
  • Calcium