The vitamin D activator CYP27B1 is upregulated in muscle fibers in denervating disease and can track progression in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Academic Article


  • Extra-renal expression of Cytochrome P450 Family 27 Subfamily B Member 1 (CYP27B1) has been well recognized and reflects the importance of intracrine/paracrine vitamin D signaling in different tissues under physiological and pathological conditions. In a prior RNA sequencing project, we identified CYP27B1 mRNA as upregulated in muscle samples from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) compared to normal controls. Our aims here were: (1) to validate this finding in a larger sample set including disease controls, (2) to determine which cell type is expressing CYP27B1 protein in muscle tissue, (3) to correlate CYP27B1 mRNA expression with disease progression in the SOD1G93A ALS mouse and in ALS patients. We assessed CYP27B1 expression by qPCR, western blot, and immunohistochemistry in a repository of muscle samples from ALS, disease controls (myopathy and non-ALS neuropathic disease), normal subjects, and muscle samples from the SOD1G93A mouse. Eight ALS patients were studied prospectively over 6–12 months with serial muscle biopsies. We found that CYP27B1 mRNA and protein levels were significantly increased in ALS versus normal and myopathy muscle samples. Neuropathy samples had increased CYP27B1 mRNA and protein expression but at a lower level than the ALS group. Immunohistochemistry showed that CYP27B1 localized to myofibers, especially those with features of denervation. In the SOD1G93A mouse, CYP27B1 mRNA and protein were detected in skeletal muscle in early pre-symptomatic stages and increased through end-stage. In the human study, increases in CYP27B1 mRNA in muscle biopsies correlated with disease progression rates over the same time period. In summary, we show for the first time that CYP27B1 mRNA and protein expression are elevated in muscle fibers in denervating disease, especially ALS, where mRNA levels can potentially serve as a surrogate marker for tracking disease progression. Its upregulation may reflect a local perturbation of vitamin D signaling, and further characterization of this pathway may provide insight into underlying molecular processes linked to muscle denervation.
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    Author List

  • Si Y; Kazamel M; Kwon Y; Lee I; Anderson T; Zhou S; Bamman M; Wiggins D; Kwan T; King PH
  • Volume

  • 200