Vitamin D is synthesized in the skin from 7-dehydrocholesterol subsequently to exposure to UVB radiation or is absorbed from the diet. Vitamin D undergoes enzymatic conversion to its active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25D), a ligand to the nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR), which activates target gene expression. The best-known role of 1,25D is to maintain healthy bones by increasing the intestinal absorption and renal reuptake of calcium. Besides bone maintenance, 1,25D has many other functions, such as the inhibition of cell proliferation, induction of cell differentiation, augmentation of innate immune functions, and reduction of inflammation. Significant amounts of data regarding the role of vitamin D, its metabolism and VDR have been provided by research performed using mice. Despite the fact that humans and mice share many similarities in their genomes, anatomy and physiology, there are also differences between these species. In particular, there are differences in composition and regulation of the VDR gene and its expression, which is discussed in this article.
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