Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with kidney disease including fibrosis. Some studies have even suggested that treatment with vitamin D or vitamin D analogs can reduce renal fibrosis; however, the pathways targeted by vitamin D therapy are not completely understood.
In this issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, Junn Yanagisawa and colleagues at the University of Tsukuba found that vitamin D binding to its receptor inhibited the TGF-β/SMAD signaling pathway and prevented renal fibrosis in mice.
The authors then generated a synthetic ligand of the vitamin D receptor that, like vitamin D, reduced renal fibrosis; however, unlike vitamin D, this synthetic ligand did not promote hypercalcemia.
In the accompanying commentary Joseph Bonventre suggests that synthetic ligands of the vitamin D receptor should be further studied as therapeutics for patients with fibrotic diseases.
A nonclassical vitamin D receptor pathway suppresses renal fibrosis, J Clin Invest. DOI: 10.1172/JCI67804
Antifibrotic vitamin D analogs, J Clin Invest. 2013;123(11):4570–4573. DOI: 10.1172/JCI72748