Uterine leiomyomas (fibroids) are the most common benign tumors in women of reproductive age. These tumors are three to four times more prevalent in African American women, who also have a 10 times higher incidence of hypovitaminosis D than white women. Recent studies have demonstrated the antitumor effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on several cancers, but its effects on uterine leiomyomas are still unknown. To determine the antitumor and therapeutic effects of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 on uterine leiomyomas, female Eker rats (14–16 mo old) harboring uterine leiomyomas were randomized into control and experimental groups and were given vehicle versus 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (0.5 μg/kg per day) subcutaneously for 3 wk, respectively. At the end of the experiment, the rats were euthanized, and the leiomyoma tumors were analyzed. Treatment with 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 significantly reduced leiomyoma tumor size in Eker rats. It also reduced leiomyoma size by suppressing cell growth and proliferation-related genes (Pcna, cyclin D1 [Ccnd1], Myc, Cdk1, Cdk2, and Cdk4), antiapoptotic genes (Bcl2 and Bcl2l1 [Bcl-x]), and estrogen and progesterone receptors. Additionally, immunohistochemistry revealed decreased expression of PCNA and MKI67 (a marker of proliferation) and increased expression of caspase 3 in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3-treated Eker rat leiomyomas. Toxicity analyses using serum samples showed similar levels of SGOT, SGPT, calcium, and total bilirubin in 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3-treated and vehicle-treated control Eker rats. These results support that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 is an antitumor agent that may be a potential safe, nonsurgical therapeutic option for the treatment of uterine leiomyomas.
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Vol. 86 • No. 4