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J Invest Dermatol. 1991 Aug;97(2):230-9.

Expression of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 receptors in normal and psoriatic skin.

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  • 1Institute of Immunology and Serology, University of Heidelberg, F.R.G.


Increasing evidence suggests an immunoregulatory function of the potent steroid hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) which has been successfully applied for treatment of psoriasis. The skin is both a site of production and a target of 1,25(OH)2D3. In vitro, 1,25(OH)2D3 inhibits proliferation and stimulates differentiation of keratinocytes. We investigated the in situ expression of vitamin D-receptors (VDR) in normal and psoriatic skin by immunochemical methods. The VDR were visualized using the monoclonal antibody (MoAb) 9A7g to the VDR and the labeled avidinbiotin technique. Immunoreactivity was consistently confined to nuclei in all skin biopsies. In normal skin specimens (n = 10) VDR antigens were expressed in keratinocytes of all epidermal layers (except those of the stratum corneum) and in cells of the epidermal appendages. Double labeling experiments with MoAb to cluster-defined antigens indicated that melanocytes and approximately 75% of Langerhans cells exhibit 1,25(OH)2D3 receptors in normal skin biopsies (n = 5). Depending on their localization in skin compartments 42-62% of CD11b+ positive macrophages and 45-75% of CD3+ T lymphocytes expressed VDR. Non-lesional psoriatic skin specimens (n = 8) revealed nearly identical staining patterns. Lesional psoriatic skin specimens (n = 8) exhibited a significant increase of VDR expression both in basal and suprabasal epidermal layers as measured by computer-assisted morphometry and showed a remarkable change of the immune cell pattern: the densitity and proportion of VDR positive T lymphocytes and macrophages were higher in the epidermal and the perivascular papillary loop compartment. These in vivo findings strongly support the hypothesis that 1,25(OH)2D3 modulates immune response and cell proliferation/differentiation in human skin.

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