Vitamin D endocrine system in breast cancer
Vitamin D is a steroid hormone of great importance in the human body. It is produced in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol, upon UV radiation. In order to exert its functions, vitamin D has to be hydroxylated (via CYP27A1 and CYP27B1 hydroxylases), which is followed by its interaction with the vitamin D receptor (VDR) or retinoic acid-related orphan receptors α or γ (RORα and RORγ). By binding with the vitamin D response elements (VDRE) located in the promoter regions, the vitamin D ligand-receptor complex may regulate vitamin D-related genes. Recently, vitamin D has acquired a great interest for its plausible association with cancer development. This review discusses the potential role of vitamin D, its analogues, and enzymes involved in its metabolism with breast cancer incidence and outcome. According to the literature, alterations in the vitamin D endocrine system, both at the mRNA and protein level, have an impact on breast cancer incidence and prognosis. Moreover, specific enzymes participating in vitamin D metabolism may serve as therapeutic targets. Notably, treatment with vitamin D analogues also gives promising results in experimental research. However, given the fact that breast cancer is heterogenous disease, further studies are needed to thoroughly elucidate the potential of vitamin D and enzymes involved in its metabolism in breast cancer development, progression and therapy. Therefore, plausible effects of vitamin D in cancer therapy or prevention have been the principal aim of numerous studies.
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