Single-cell analyses unravel cell type-specific responses to a vitamin D analog in prostatic precancerous lesions

Sci Adv. 2021 Jul 30;7(31):eabg5982. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abg5982. Print 2021 Jul.


Epidemiological data have linked vitamin D deficiency to the onset and severity of various cancers, including prostate cancer, and although in vitro studies have demonstrated anticancer activities for vitamin D, clinical trials provided conflicting results. To determine the impact of vitamin D signaling on prostatic precancerous lesions, we treated genetically engineered Pten(i)pe-/- mice harboring prostatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PIN) with Gemini-72, a vitamin D analog with reported anticancer activities. We show that this analog induces apoptosis in senescent PINs, normalizes extracellular matrix remodeling by stromal fibroblasts, and reduces the prostatic infiltration of immunosuppressive myeloid-derived suppressor cells. Moreover, single-cell RNA-sequencing analysis demonstrates that while a subset of luminal cells expressing Krt8, Krt4, and Tacstd2 (termed luminal-C cells) is lost by such a treatment, antiapoptotic pathways are induced in persistent luminal-C cells. Therefore, our findings delineate the distinct responses of PINs and the microenvironment to Gemini-72, and shed light on mechanisms that limit treatment's efficacy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Precancerous Conditions* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia* / metabolism
  • Prostatic Intraepithelial Neoplasia* / pathology
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / drug therapy
  • Prostatic Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Single-Cell Analysis
  • Tumor Microenvironment
  • Vitamin D / pharmacology
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Vitamin D