Gene expression in breast and adipose tissue after 12 months of weight loss and vitamin D supplementation in postmenopausal women.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


NPJ breast cancer, Volume 3, p.15 (2017)


Adipose tissue is involved in the etiology of postmenopausal breast cancer, possibly through increased sex steroid hormone production, inflammation, and altered adipokines. Vitamin D may affect these pathways but its effect on gene expression in different tissues has not been examined. Within a double-blind, 12-month placebo-controlled randomized trial, we compared 2000 IU/day oral vitamin D3 supplementation (N = 39) vs. placebo (N = 40) on the expression of 5 genes in breast and adipose tissue in overweight/obese postmenopausal women (50-75 years). All participants had serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25(OH)D) levels ≥ 10-<32 ng/mL ("insufficient") and concurrently completed a behavioral weight loss program. Random periareolar fine needle aspiration (RPFNA) and abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue biopsies were performed at baseline and 12 months. Changes in expression of aromatase (CYP19A1), peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPARG), adiponectin (ADIPOQ), monocyte-chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP-1), and vitamin D receptor (VDR) were analyzed by qRT-PCR. Compared to placebo, 2000 IU vitamin D did not show significant effects on gene expression in breast or adipose tissue. Replete women (i.e., 25(OH)D ≥ 32 ng/mL; N = 17) showed a small decrease in MCP-1 expression compared to an increase among women who remained 'insufficient' despite supplementation (N = 12) (Replete:-1.6% vs. Non-replete: 61.2%, p = 0.015) in breast, but not adipose tissue. No statistically significant differences in gene expression were detected according to degree of weight loss. Vitamin D repletion during weight loss may have different effects on gene expression in breast and adipose tissue. Further research on the localized effects of vitamin D is needed to determine its effect on breast cancer risk.