Uterine fibroids (leiomyomas) are the most common benign tumors associated with excessive deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM)-associated proteins that increase fibroid tumorigenicity. Herein, we determined the expression levels of vitamin D receptor (VDR) protein in human uterine fibroids and compared these levels to those in adjacent normal myometrium. Using Western blot analysis, we found that more than 60% of uterine fibroids analyzed (25 of 40) expressed low levels of VDR. We also found that the biologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25[OH]2D3), which functions via binding to its nuclear VDR, induced VDR in a concentration-dependent manner and reduced ECM-associated fibrotic and proteoglycans expression in immortalized human uterine fibroid cell line (HuLM). At 1–10 nM concentrations, 1,25(OH)2D3 significantly induced (P < 0.05) nuclear VDR, which was further stimulated by higher concentrations of 1,25(OH)2D3 in HuLM cells. 1,25(OH)2D3 at 10 nM also significantly reduced (P < 0.05) the protein expression of ECM-associated collagen type 1, fibronectin, and plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) in HuLM cells. We also found that 1,25(OH)2D3 reduced mRNA and protein expressions of proteoglycans such as fibromodulin, biglycan, and versican in HuLM cells. Moreover, the aberrant expression of structural smooth muscle actin fibers was reduced by 1,25(OH)2D3 treatment in a concentration-dependent manner in HuLM cells. Taken together, our results suggest that human uterine fibroids express reduced levels of VDR compared to the adjacent normal myometrium and that treatment with 1,25(OH)2D3 can potentially reduce the aberrant expression of major ECM-associated proteins in HuLM cells. Thus, 1,25(OH)2D3 might be an effective, safe, nonsurgical treatment option for human uterine fibroids.
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Vol. 89 • No. 6