Aging and a long-term diabetes mellitus increase expression of 1 α-hydroxylase and vitamin D receptors in the rat liver

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Diabetes mellitus (DM) is a metabolic disorder associated with serious liver complications. As a metabolic chronic disease, DM is very common in the elderly. Recent studies suggest ameliorating effects of vitamin D on metabolic and oxidative stress in the liver tissue in an experimental model of DM. The aim of this study was to investigate the expression of vitamin D receptors (VDRs) and 1α-hydroxylase, the key enzyme for the production of active vitamin D form (calcitriol) in the liver during long-term diabetes mellitus type 1 (DM1) in aging rats. We performed immunohistochemical analysis of liver expression of 1α-hydroxylase and VDRs during aging in long-term streptozotocin-induced DM1. 1α-Hydroxylase was identified in the monocyte/macrophage system of the liver. In addition to the nuclear expression, we also observed the expression of VDR in membranes of lipid droplets within hepatocytes. Aging and long-term DM1 resulted in significant increases in the number of 1α-hydroxylase immunoreactive cells, as well as the percentage of strongly positive VDR hepatocytes. In conclusion, the liver has the capacity for active vitamin D synthesis in its monocyte/macrophage system that is substantially increased in aging and long-term diabetes mellitus. These conditions are also characterized by significant increases in vitamin D receptor expression in hepatocytes. The present study suggests that VDR signaling system could be a potential target in prevention of liver complications caused by diabetes and aging.

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