Expression of vitamin D receptor and metabolizing enzymes in multiple sclerosis-affected brain tissue

Joost Smolders*, Karianne G. Schuurman, Miriam E. Van Strien, Jeroen Melief, Debbie Hendrickx, Elly M. Hol, Corbert Van Eden, Sabina Luchetti, Inge Huitinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

101 Citations (Scopus)
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Vitamin D deficiency has been implicated as a risk factor for multiple sclerosis (MS), but how vitamin D metabolism affects MS pathophysiology is not understood. We studied the expression of vitamin D receptor (VDR) and related enzymes, including 1,25(OH)2D-24-hydroxylase (24-OHase; CYP24A1) and 25(OH)D-1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1), in CNS tissues of 39 MS patients and20 controls and in primary human glial cells in vitro. In control and MS normal-appearing white matter (NAWM), nuclear VDR immunostaining was observed in oligodendrocyte-like cells, humanleukocyte antigen (HLA)-positive microglia, and glial fibrillary acidic protein-positive astrocytes. There was a 2-fold increase in VDR transcripts in MS NAWM versus control white matter (p = 0.03). In chronic active MS lesions, HLA-positive microglia/macrophages showed nuclear VDR staining; astrocytes showed nuclear and cytoplasmic VDR staining. Staining for 24-OHase was restricted to astrocytes.VDR and CYP27B1 mRNA expressions were increased in active MS lesions versus NAWM (p < 0.01, p = 0.04, respectively). In primary human astrocytes in vitro, the active formof vitamin D, 1,25(OH)2D3, induced upregulation of VDR and CYP24A1. Tumor necrosis factor and interferon-γ upregulated CYP27B1 mRNA in primary human microglia and astrocytes. IncreasedVDR expression in MS NAWM and inflammatory cytokine-induced amplified expression of VDR and CYP27B1 in chronic active MS lesions suggest increased sensitivity to vitamin D in NAWM and a possible endogenous role for vitamin D metabolism in the suppression of active MS lesions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-105
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


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