Distribution of the vitamin D receptor and 1 alpha-hydroxylase in human brain

Darryl W Eyles, Steven Smith, Robert Kinobe, Martin Hewison, John J McGrath

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    914 Citations (Scopus)


    Despite a growing body of evidence that Vitamin D is involved in mammalian brain functioning, there has been a lack of direct evidence about its role in the human brain. This paper reports, for the first time, the distribution of the 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 receptor (VDR), and 1alpha-hydroxylase (1alpha-OHase), the enzyme responsible for the formation of the active vitamin in the human brain. The receptor and the enzyme were found in both neurons and glial cells in a regional and layer-specific pattern. The VDR was restricted to the nucleus whilst 1alpha-OHase was distributed throughout the cytoplasm. The distribution of the VDR in human brain was strikingly similar to that reported in rodents. Many regions contained equivalent amounts of both the VDR and 1alpha-OHase, however the macrocellular cells within the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) and the Purkinje cells in the cerebellum expressed 1alpha-OHase in the absence of VDR. The strongest immunohistochemical staining for both the receptor and enzyme was in the hypothalamus and in the large (presumably dopaminergic) neurons within the substantia nigra. The observed distribution of the VDR is consistent with the proposal that Vitamin D operates in a similar fashion to the known neurosteroids. The widespread distribution of 1alpha-OHase and the VDR suggests that Vitamin D may have autocrine/paracrine properties in the human brain.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)21-30
    Number of pages10
    JournalJournal of Chemical Neuroanatomy
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


    • 25-Hydroxyvitamin D3 1-alpha-Hydroxylase
    • Adult
    • Brain
    • Brain Chemistry
    • Humans
    • Male
    • Middle Aged
    • Receptors, Calcitriol


    Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of the vitamin D receptor and 1 alpha-hydroxylase in human brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this