The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is expressed in skeletal muscle of male mice and modulates 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) uptake in myofibers

Endocrinology. 2014 Sep;155(9):3227-37. doi: 10.1210/en.2014-1016. Epub 2014 Jun 20.


Vitamin D deficiency is associated with a range of muscle disorders, including myalgia, muscle weakness, and falls. In humans, polymorphisms of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) gene are associated with variations in muscle strength, and in mice, genetic ablation of VDR results in muscle fiber atrophy and motor deficits. However, mechanisms by which VDR regulates muscle function and morphology remain unclear. A crucial question is whether VDR is expressed in skeletal muscle and directly alters muscle physiology. Using PCR, Western blotting, and immunohistochemistry (VDR-D6 antibody), we detected VDR in murine quadriceps muscle. Detection by Western blotting was dependent on the use of hyperosmolar lysis buffer. Levels of VDR in muscle were low compared with duodenum and dropped progressively with age. Two in vitro models, C2C12 and primary myotubes, displayed dose- and time-dependent increases in expression of both VDR and its target gene CYP24A1 after 1,25(OH)2D (1,25 dihydroxyvitamin D) treatment. Primary myotubes also expressed functional CYP27B1 as demonstrated by luciferase reporter studies, supporting an autoregulatory vitamin D-endocrine system in muscle. Myofibers isolated from mice retained tritiated 25-hydroxyvitamin D3, and this increased after 3 hours of pretreatment with 1,25(OH)2D (0.1 nM). No such response was seen in myofibers from VDR knockout mice. In summary, VDR is expressed in skeletal muscle, and vitamin D regulates gene expression and modulates ligand-dependent uptake of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in primary myofibers.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Myofibrils / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / genetics
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism*


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D