The effect of vitamin D prophylaxis on radiation induced pulmonary damage

J Radiat Res. 2011;52(5):616-21. doi: 10.1269/jrr.11033.


Vitamin D has a selective radio and chemosensitizing effect on tumor cells. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown that vitamin D inhibits collagen gel construction, induces type II pneumocyte proliferation and surfactant synthesis in the lungs, and decreases vascular permeability caused by radiation. The aim of this experimental study was to determine if vitamin D has a protective effect against radiation-induced pulmonary damage. Adult Wistar rats were divided into 4 groups. Group 1 was comprised of control animals. Group 2, which was administered 0.25 µg/kg/day of vitamin D3 for 8 weeks, was the vitamin D control group. Rats in groups 3 and 4 were given 20 Gy right hemithorax radiotherapy, and in addition group 4 was given vitamin D3 treatment, which began the day before the radiotherapy and continued for 8 weeks. At the 8(th) and the 12(th) weeks of the study 4 rats from each group were sacrificed. Right lungs were dissected for light and electron microscopic study. The electron microscopy examinations revealed statistically significant differences between group 3 and 4, and in group 4 there was less interstitial inflammation and collagen deposition, and the alveolar structure and the cells lining the alveolar walls were protected. These results confirm that vitamin D has a protective effect against radiation-induced pulmonary toxicity. These findings should be evaluated with further clinical studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / pathology
  • Radiation Injuries, Experimental / prevention & control
  • Radiation Pneumonitis / pathology
  • Radiation Pneumonitis / prevention & control*
  • Radiation-Protective Agents / pharmacology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Radiation-Protective Agents
  • Cholecalciferol