The effects of vitamin D on calcium and phosphate metabolism and bone formation are well studied. For many years, it was thought that the importance of vitamin D was confined to these roles, and the study of this hormone's activity in other tissues was neglected. In recent years, however, there has been a renewed interest among researchers in identifying other target organs for vitamin D, such as the central nervous system. Increasingly, it appears that vitamin D plays a role in nerve growth and maintenance and may have important pharmaceutical applications for treatment of neurodegenerative conditions. This review focuses on our growing understanding of the biology of vitamin D in the brain and the potential pathophysiologic and therapeutic relationships that exist between vitamin D and neuronal dysfunction.
*Resident of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut; and †Associate Professor of Medicine, Center on Aging, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut.
The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with or financial interests in any commercial company that pertains to this educational activity.
Reprints: Anne M. Kenny, MD, Center on Aging, MC-5215, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT 06030-5215. E-mail: Kenny@uchc.edu.
Lippincott Continuing Medical Education Institute, Inc. has identified and resolved all faculty conflicts of interest regarding this educational activity.
Chief Editor's Note: This article is the 30th of 35 that will be published in 2007 for which a total of up to 35 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™ can be earned. Instructions for how credits can be earned precede the CME Examination at the back of this issue.