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J Cell Biochem. 2003 Jul 1;89(4):663-73.

1,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3 inhibits ultraviolet B-induced apoptosis, Jun kinase activation, and interleukin-6 production in primary human keratinocytes.

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  • 1Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Endocrinology (LEGENDO), Gasthuisberg, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 3000 Leuven, Belgium.


We investigated the capacity of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25(OH)(2)D(3)] to protect human keratinocytes against the hazardous effects of ultraviolet B (UVB)-irradiation, recognized as the most important etiological factor in the development of skin cancer. Cytoprotective effects of 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) on UVB-irradiated keratinocytes were seen morphologically and quantified using a colorimetric survival assay. Moreover, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) suppressed UVB-induced apoptotic cell death. An ELISA, detecting DNA-fragmentation, demonstrated that pretreatment of keratinocytes with 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) 1 microM for 24 h reduced UVB-stimulated apoptosis by 55-70%. This suppression required pharmacological concentrations 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) and a preincubation period of several hours. In addition, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) also inhibited mitochondrial cytochrome c release (90%), a hallmark event of UVB-induced apoptosis. Furthermore, we demonstrated that 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) reduced two important mediators of the UV-response, namely, c-Jun-NH(2)-terminal kinase (JNK) activation and interleukin-6 (IL-6) production. As shown by Western blotting, pretreatment of keratinocytes with 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) 1 microM diminished UVB-stimulated JNK activation with more than 30%. 1,25(OH)(2)D(3) treatment (1 microM) reduced UVB-induced IL-6 mRNA expression and secretion with 75-90%. Taken together, these findings suggest the existence of a photoprotective effect of active vitamin D(3) and create new perspectives for the pharmacological use of active vitamin D compounds in the prevention of UVB-induced skin damage and carcinogenesis.

Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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