We have previously shown that keratinocytes in vitro can convert biologically inactive vitamin D3 to the hormone calcitriol. The present study was initiated to test whether ultraviolet B (UVB)-induced photolysis of provitamin D3 (7-dehydrocholesterol, [7-DHC]) which results in the formation of vitamin D3 also leads to the generation of calcitriol in keratinocytes. Submerged monolayers of HaCaT keratinocytes were preincubated with 7-DHC (25 μM) at 37°C and irradiated with monochromatic UVB at different wavelengths (effective UV-doses: 7.5–60 mJ/cm2), or a narrow-band fluorescent lamp Philips TL-01 (UVB-doses: 125–1500 mJ/cm2). Irradiation with both sources of UVB resulted in the generation of different amounts of previtamin D3 in our in vitro model followed by time-dependent isomerization to vitamin D3 and consecutive formation of calcitriol in the picomolar range. Unirradiated cultures or cultures exposed to wavelengths >315 nm generated no or only trace amounts of calcitriol. The conversion of vitamin D3 generated after UVB irradiation to calcitriol is inhibited by ketoconazole indicating the involvement of P450 mixed function oxidases in this chemical reaction. The generation of calcitriol was wavelength- and UVB dose dependent and reached approximately 18-fold higher levels after irradiation at 297 nm than at 310 nm (effective UVB dose: 30 mJ/cm2). Hence, keratinocytes may be a potential source of biologically active calcitriol within epidermis, when irradiated with therapeutical doses of UVB.
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Vol. 72 • No. 6