Extraskeletal actions of vitamin D

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2016 Jul;1376(1):29-52. doi: 10.1111/nyas.13219.


The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is found in nearly all, if not all, cells in the body. The enzyme that produces the active metabolite of vitamin D and ligand for VDR, namely CYP27B1, likewise is widely expressed in many cells of the body. These observations indicate that the role of vitamin D is not limited to regulation of bone and mineral homeostasis, as important as that is. Rather, the study of its extraskeletal actions has become the major driving force behind the significant increase in research articles on vitamin D published over the past several decades. A great deal of information has accumulated from cell culture studies, in vivo animal studies, and clinical association studies that confirms that extraskeletal effects of vitamin D are truly widespread and substantial. However, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, when done, have by and large not produced the benefits anticipated by the in vitro cell culture and in vivo animal studies. In this review, I will examine the role of vitamin D signaling in a number of extraskeletal tissues and assess the success of translating these findings into treatments of human diseases affecting those extracellular tissues.

Keywords: CYP27B1; cancer; cardiovascular; immune system; skin; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone and Bones / drug effects*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Disease
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects
  • Models, Biological
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*


  • Vitamin D