Role of vitamin D in the pathogenesis of atheromatosis

Erika Rimondi, Annalisa Marcuzzi, Fabio Casciano, Gianluca Tornese, Agnese Pellati, Barbara Toffoli, Paola Secchiero, Elisabetta Melloni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background and aims: Cardiovascular disease is the main cause of death worldwide, but the collective efforts to prevent this pathological condition are directed exclusively to individuals at higher risk due to hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, obesity, diabetes. Recently, vitamin D deficiency was identified as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in healthy people, as it predisposes to different vascular dysfunctions that can result in plaque development and fragility. In this scenario, the fundamental aim of the study was to reproduce a disease model inducing vitamin D deficiency and atheromatosis in ApoE−/- mice and then to evaluate the impact of this vitamin D status on the onset/progression of atheromatosis, focusing on plaque formation and instability. Methods and results: In our murine disease model, vitamin D deficiency was achieved by 3 weeks of vitamin D deficient diet along with intraperitoneal paricalcitol injections, while atheromatosis by western-type diet administration. Under these experimental conditions, vitamin D deficient mice developed more unstable atheromatous plaques with reduced or absent fibrotic cap. Since calcium and phosphorus metabolism and also cholesterol and triglycerides systemic concentration were not affected by vitamin D level, our results highlighted the role of vitamin D deficiency in the formation/instability of atheromatous plaque and, although further studies are needed, suggested a possible intervention with vitamin D to prevent or delay the atheromatous disease. Conclusions: The data obtained open the question about the potential role of the vitamins in the pharmacological treatments of cardiovascular disorders as coadjutant of the primary drugs used for these pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalNutrition, Metabolism and Cardiovascular Diseases
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020


  • Atheromatosis
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammation
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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