Hypovitaminosis D and adipose tissue – cause and effect relationships in obesity
More details
Hide details
Division of Biology of Civilization-Linked Diseases, Department of Chemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
Corresponding author
Marta Pelczyńska   

Division of Biology of Civilization-Linked Diseases, Department of Chemistry and Clinical Biochemistry, Poznan University of Medical Sciences, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2016;23(3):403-409
In recent years, attention has been focused on pleiotropic directions of effects exerted by vitamin D. Epidemiological data indicate that deficiency of vitamin D in various population groups represents an increasingly widespread phenomenon, while a decreased serum concentration of calcitriol correlates with manifestation of civilization-linked diseases, including visceral obesity. This study aims at a review and synthesis of data linked to relationships between lowered vitamin D concentrations in blood and manifestation of obesity, and potential mechanisms which affect the concentration of the vitamin in conditions of an excessive accumulation of adipose tissue. Several variables are distinguished which can affect the status of vitamin D in obesity, but the key role in this respect is ascribed to the metabolic activity of visceral adipose tissue. Among others, the activity favours sequestration and modulation of calcitriol turnover. On the other hand, the effects of vitamin D on the process of adipogenesis and its involvement in remodelling of adipose tissue are pointed out. Also, several factors of an environmental nature (e.g. time of year/day, dietetic supply of vitamin D), genetic nature (e.g. genetic polymorphisms) and other conditioning (e.g. coexisting diseases, age, content of melanin in skin) cannot be bypassed as they may affect the concentration of vitamin D. Nevertheless, it still remains unresolved to what extent hypovitaminosis D represents the cause and to which it is the effect of obesity.
Napiórkowska L, Franek E. Rola oznaczania witaminy D w praktyce klinicznej. Chor Serca Naczyn. 2009; 6(4): 203–210 (in Polish).
Kosińska J, Billing-Marczak K, Krotkiewski M. Nowe nieznane funkcje witaminy D. Med Rodz. 2008; 2: 34–37 (in Polish).
Cannoll JJ, Hollis BW. Use of vitamin D in clinical practice. Altern Med Rev. 2008; 13(1): 6–20.
Holick MF, Binkley NC, Bischoff-Ferrari HA, Gordon CM, Hanley DA, Heaney RP, et al. Evaluation, treatment, and prevention of vitamin D deficiency: an Endocrine Society clinical practice guideline. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2011; 96(7): 1911–1930.
Ding C, Gao D, Wilding J, Trayhurn P, Bing C. Vitamin signaling in adipose tissue. Brit J Nutr. 2012; 108(11): 1915–1923.
Tukaj C. Właściwy poziom witaminy D warunkiem zachowania zdrowia. Post Hig Med Dosw. 2008; 62: 502–510 (in Polish).
Wang C. Role of vitamin D in cardiometabolic diseases. J Diabetes Resch. 2013. ID 243934, 10 pages.
Pełczyńska M, Jaroszewicz I, Świtalska M, Opolski A. Właściwości biologiczne kalcytriolu i jego nowych analogów – potencjalne zastosowania terapeutyczne. Postepy Hig Med Dosw. 2005; 59: 129–139 (in Polish).
Haussler MR, Whitfield GK, Kaneko I, Haussler CA, Hsieh D, Hsieh JC, et al. Molecular mechanisms of vitamin D action. Calcif Tissue Int. 2013; 92(2): 77–98.
Norman AW. Minireview: vitamin D receptor: new assignments for an already busy receptor. Endocrinology. 2006; 147(12): 5542–5548.
Vanlint S. Vitamin D and obesity. Nutrients. 2013; 5: 949–956.
Li J, Byrne ME, Chang E, Jiang Y, Donkin SS, Buhman KK, et al. 1alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D hydroxylase in adipocytes. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2008; 112(1–3): 122–126.
Ching S, Kashinkunti S, Niehaus MD, Zinser GM. Mammary adipocytes bioactivate 25-hydroxyvitamin D and signal via vitamin D receptor, modulating mammary epithelial cell growth. J Cell Biochem. 2011; 112(11): 3393–3405.
O’Hara A, Lim FL, Mazzatti DJ, Trayhurn P. Microarray analysis identifies matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) as key genes whose expression is up-regulated in human adipocytes by macrophage-conditioned medium. Pflugers Arch. 2009; 458(6): 1103–1114.
Trayhurn P, O’Hara A, Bing C. Interrogation of microarray datasets indicates that macrophage-secreted factors stimulate the expression of genes associated with vitamin D metabolism (VDR and CYP27B1) in human adipocytes. Adipobiology. 2011; 3: 29–34.
Wamberg L, Christiansen T, Paulsen SK, Fisker S, Rask P, Rejnmark L, et al. Expression of vitamin D-metabolizing enzymes in human adipose tissue – the effect of obesity and diet-induced weight loss. Int J Obes. 2013; 37(5): 651–657.
Bikle D. Extra renal synthesis of 1,25-dihydroksyvitamin D and its health implications. Clin Rev Bone Mineral Metab. 2009; 7(2): 114–125.
Kong J, Li YC. Molecular mechanism of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 inhibition of adipogenesis in 3T3-L1 cells. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2006; 290(5): 916–924.
Sergeev I. 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 induces Ca 2+ – mediated apoptosis in adipocytes via activation of calpain and caspase-12. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2009; 384(1): 18–21.
Nimitphong H, Holick MF, Fried SK, Lee MJ. 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 and 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 promote the differentiation of human subcutaneous preadipocytes. Plos One. 2012; 7(12): e52171. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0052171.
Wong KE, Szeto FL, Zhang W, Ye H, Kong J, Zhang Z, et al. Involvement of the vitamin D receptor in energy metabolism: regulation of uncoupling proteins. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2009; 296(4): E820-E828.
Narvaez CJ, Matthews D, Broun E, Chan M, Welsh J. Lean phenotype and resistance to diet-induced obesity in vitamin D receptor knockout mice correlates with induction of uncoupling protein-1 in white adipose tissue. Endocrinology. 2009; 150(2): 651–661.
Weber K, Erben RG. Differences in triglyceride and cholesterol metabolism and resistance to obesity in male and female vitamin D receptor knockout mice. J Anim Physiol Anim Nutr. 2013; 97(4): 675–683.
Wong KE, Kong J, Zhang W, Szeto FL, Ye H, Deb DK, et al. Targeted expression of human vitamin D receptor in adipocytes decreases energy expenditure and induces obesity in mice. J Biol Chem. 2011; 286(39): 33804–33810.
Rosenblum JL, Castro VM, Moore CE, Kaplan LM. Calcium and vitamin D supplementation is associated with decreased abdominal visceral adipose tissue in overweight and obese adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2012; 95: 101–108.
Zhu W, Cai D, Wang Y, Lin N, Hu Q, Qi Y, et al. Calcium plus vitamin D 3 supplementation facilitated fat loss in overweight and obese college students with very-low calcium consumption: a randomized controlled trial. Nutr J. 2013; 12: 8. doi: 10.1186/1475–2891–12–8.
Wamberg L, Kampmann U, Stodkilde-Jorgensen H, Rejnmark L, Pedersen SB, Richelsen B. Effects of vitamin D supplementation on body fat accumulation, inflammation, and metabolic risk factors in obese adults with low vitamin D levels – results from a randomized trial. Eur J Intern Med. 2013; 24(7): 644–649.
Sneve M, Figenschau Y, Jorde R. Supplementation with cholecalciferol does not result in weight reduction in overweight and obese subjects. Eur J Endocrinol. 2008; 159: 675–684.
World Health Organization: Obesity. Geneva, WHO. 2008. (access: 2014.02.03).
Luong KVQ, Nguyen LTH. Vitamin D and obesity. Med Chem. 2012; 2: 011–019.
Burgaz A, Akesson A, Oster A, Michaelsson K, Wolk A. Associations of diet, supplement use and ultraviolet B radiation exposure with vitamin D status in Swedish women during winter. Am J Clin Natur. 2007; 86(5): 1399–1404.
Kull M, Kallikorm R, Lember M. Body mass index determines sunbathing habits: Implications on vitamin D levels. Intern Med J. 2009; 39(4): 256–258.
Wortsman J, Matsuoka LY, Chen TC, Lu Z, Holick MF. Decreased bioavailability of vitamin D in obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 72(3): 690–693.
Bulm M, Dolnikowski G, Seyoum E, Harris SS, Booth SL, Peterson J, et al. Vitamin D(3) in fat tissue. Endocrine. 2008; 33(1): 90–94.
Sulistyoningrum DC, Green TJ, Lear SA, Devlin AM, Muller M. Ethnic-specific differences in vitamin D status is associated with adiposity. Plos One. 2012; 7(8): e43159. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043159.
Mai XM, Chen Y, Camargo CA Jr, Langhammer A. Cross-sectional and prospective cohort study of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D level and obesity in adults: the HUNT study. Am J Epidemiol. 2012; 175(10): 1029–1036.
Al-Daghri NM, Alkharfy KM, Al-Othman A, Yakout SM, Al-Saleh Y, Fouda M, et al. Effect of non-pharmacologic vitamin D status correction on circulating bone markers in healthy overweight and obese. Molecules. 2013; 18(9): 10671–10680.
Kamycheva E, Joakimsen RM, Jorde R. Intakes of calcium and vitamin D predict body mass index in the population of Northern Norway. J Nutr. 2003; 133(1): 102–106.
Alpert PT, Shaikh U. The effects of vitamin D deficiency and insufficiency on the endocrine and paracrine system. Biol Res Nurs. 2007; 9(2): 117–129.
Sweeney C, Murtaugh MA, Baumgartner KB, Byers T, Giuliano AR, Herrick JS, et al. Insulin-like growth factor pathway polymorphisms associated with body size in Hispanic and non-Hispanic white women. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005; 14(7): 1802–1809.
Bastepe M, Lane AH, Juppner H. Paternal uniparental isodisomy of chromosome 20q-and the resulting changes in GNAS1 methylation – as a plausible cause of pseudohypoparathyroidism. Am J Hum Genet. 2001; 68(5): 1283–1289.
Lee JH, Reed DR, Li WD, Xu W, Joo EJ, Kilker RL, et al. Genome scan for human obesity and linkage to markers in 20q13. Am J Hum Genet. 1999; 64(1): 196–209.
Wang TJ, Zhang F, Richards JB, Kestenbaum B, van Meurs JB, Berry D, et al. Common genetic determinants of vitamin D insufficiency: a genome-wide association study. Lancet. 2010; 376: 180–188.
Eisenberg DT, Kuzawa CW, Hayes MG. Worldwide allele frequencies of the human apoliprotein E (APOE) gene: climate, local adaptations and evolutionary history. Am J Phys Anthropol. 2010; 143(1): 100–111.
Ferreira DC, Costa TF, Aguiar SL, Marques AR, Ramos SA, Gomes KB, et al. Association of apolipoprotein E polymorphisms and metabolicsyndrome in subjects with extreme obesity. Clin Chim Acta. 2011; 412(17–18): 1559–1562.
Luong KVQ, Nguyen LTH. The beneficial role of vitamin D in obesity: possible genetic and cell signaling mechanisms. Nutrition J. 2013; 12(89). doi: 10.1186/1475–2891–12–89.
Huebbe P, Nebel A, Siegert S, Moehring J, Boesch-Saadatmandi C, Most E, et al. APOE ε4 is associated with higher vitamin D levels in targeted replacement mice and humans. FASEB J. 2011; 25(9): 3262–3270.
Vimaleswaran KS, Berry DJ, Lu C, Tikkanen E, Pilz S, Hiraki LT, et al. Causal relationship between obesity and vitamin D status: Bi-directional mendelian randomization analysis of multiple cohorts. PLOS Medicine. 2013; 10(2): e1001383. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001383.
Kienreich K, Tomaschitz A, Verheyen N, Pieber T, Gaksch M, Grübler MR, et al. Vitamin D and cardiovascular disease. Nutrients. 2013; 5(8): 3005–3021.
Kardas F, Kendirci M, Kurtoglu S. Cardiometabolic risk factors related to vitamin D and adiponectin in obese children and adolescents. Int J Endocrinol. 2013. doi: 10.1155/2013/503270.
Garanty-Bogacka B, Syrenicz M, Goral J, Krupa B, Syrenicz J, Walczak M, et al. Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D) in obese adolescents. Pol J Endocrinol. 2011; 62(6): 506–511.
Park HY, Lim YH, Kim JH, Bae S, Oh SY, Hong JC. Association of serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D levels with markers for metabolic syndrome in the elderly: A repeated measure analysis. J Korean Med Sci. 2012; 27(6): 653–660.
Clemens TL, Adams JS, Henderson SL, Holick MF. Increased skin pigment reduces the capacity of skin to synthesis vitamin D3. Lancet. 1982; 1: 74–76.
Khan H, Kunutsor S, Franco OH, Chowdhury R. Vitamin D, type 2 diabetes and other metabolic outcomes: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective studies. Proc Nutr Soc. 2013; 72(1): 89–97.
Journals System - logo
Scroll to top