Vitamin D inhibits lymphangiogenesis through VDR-dependent mechanisms

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 17:7:44403. doi: 10.1038/srep44403.


Excessive lymphangiogenesis is associated with cancer progression and renal disease. Attenuation of lymphangiogenesis might represent a novel strategy to target disease progression although clinically approved anti-lymphangiogenic drugs are not available yet. VitaminD(VitD)-deficiency is associated with increased cancer risk and chronic kidney disease. Presently, effects of VitD on lymphangiogenesis are unknown. Given the apparently protective effects of VitD and the deleterious associations of lymphangiogenesis with renal disease, we here tested the hypothesis that VitD has direct anti-lymphangiogenic effects in vitro and is able to attenuate lymphangiogenesis in vivo. In vitro cultured mouse lymphatic endothelial cells (LECs) expressed VitD Receptor (VDR), both on mRNA and protein levels. Active VitD (calcitriol) blocked LEC tube formation, reduced LEC proliferation, and induced LEC apoptosis. siRNA-mediated VDR knock-down reversed the inhibitory effect of calcitriol on LEC tube formation, demonstrating how such inhibition is VDR-dependent. In vivo, proteinuric rats were treated with vehicle or paricalcitol for 6 consecutive weeks. Compared with vehicle-treated proteinuric rats, paricalcitol showed markedly reduced renal lymphangiogenesis. In conclusion, our data show that VitD is anti-lymphangiogenic through VDR-dependent anti-proliferative and pro-apoptotic mechanisms. Our findings highlight an important novel function of VitD demonstrating how it may have therapeutic value in diseases accompanied by pathological lymphangiogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Movement / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Doxorubicin / toxicity
  • Endothelial Cells / cytology
  • Endothelial Cells / drug effects
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism
  • Ergocalciferols / pharmacology*
  • Gene Expression
  • Humans
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / metabolism
  • Kidney / pathology
  • Lymphangiogenesis / drug effects*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / drug effects*
  • Lymphatic Vessels / metabolism
  • Lymphatic Vessels / pathology
  • Mice
  • Proteinuria / chemically induced
  • Proteinuria / drug therapy*
  • Proteinuria / metabolism
  • Proteinuria / pathology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / genetics*
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology*


  • Ergocalciferols
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D
  • paricalcitol
  • Doxorubicin