Vitamin D is an important hormone that regulates many physiological processes
related to human health. Through its nuclear receptor, VDR, vitamin D controls gene expression
through genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. Increasing data have demonstrated the
anti-cancer activities of vitamin D in various cancers, including colon cancer. This review
summarizes the recent progresses in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of vitamin
D and its interaction with the epigenetic machinery in colon cancer. Vitamin D
changes the status of DNA methylation and histone modifications, resulting in the activation
of tumor suppressors and inhibition of oncogenes. In addition, vitamin D activates the expression
of tumor suppressing miRNAs, which contribute to the tumor suppressive activity.
Further understanding of the epigenetic action of vitamin D will help the development of
therapeutic strategies targeting the vitamin D signaling pathway without inducing the
hypercalcemic side effects.
Keywords: Vitamin D, epigenetics, microRNA, DNA methylation, histone methylation, chemotherapy.
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