Involvement of endogenously produced 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D-3 in the growth and differentiation of human keratinocytes

Biochim Biophys Acta. 1991 May 17;1092(3):311-8. doi: 10.1016/s0167-4889(97)90006-9.


In this study, we investigated the possibility that cultured keratinocytes from normal human adult skin produce 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D-3 (1,25(OH)2D3, a biologically active form of vitamin D-3) from 25-hydroxyvitamin D-3 [25(OH)D3], and that 1,25(OH)2D3 endogenously produced by keratinocytes is involved in the self regulation of their growth and differentiation. To determine whether 1,25(OH)2D3 is produced from 25(OH)D3 by skin keratinocytes, 25(OH)[3H]D3 was added to keratinocyte cultures and incubated for 1 h and 5 h. The intracellular and extracellular metabolites were analyzed by three chromatographic systems. The three chromatograms revealed that the major metabolite produced from 25(OH)D3 was 1,25(OH)2D3. Most of the 1,25(OH)2D3 endogenously produced from 25(OH)D3 remained within the cells. To examine the time course of 1,25(OH)2D3 production, the amount of 1,25(OH)[3H]D3 was measured at 15 min, 1 h, 5 h and 10 h, being at a maximum 1 h after the addition of 25(OH)D3. These data indicate that keratinocytes rapidly convert 25(OH)D3 to 1,25(OH)2D3 and that 1,25(OH)2D3 is not released into the medium. To determine whether endogenously produced 1,25(OH)2D3 is involved in the regulation of growth and differentiation of normal human keratinocytes, we examined the effects of 1,25(OH)2D3 and 25(OH)D3 on their growth and differentiation. Keratinocyte growth was inhibited to 52.6% and 23.4% by 10(-8) M and 10(-7) M 1,25(OH)2D3 and to 80.5% and 23.9% by 10(-8) M and 10(-7) M 25(OH)D3, respectively. Differentiation of these cells was evaluated by quantifying the number which express involucrin, a precursor protein of cornified envelope. The population of involucrin expressing cells (differentiated cells) increased from 6.2% to 14.5% by 2.5.10(-7) M 1,25(OH)2D3, and to 11.8% by 2.5.10(-7) M 25(OH)D3. These results clearly indicate that 25(OH)D3 is as effective on human keratinocytes as 1,25(OH)2D3 in inhibiting growth and inducing differentiation, although to a slightly lesser extent than 1,25(OH)2D3. The possibility that the effect of 25(OH)D3 is mediated through binding to the 1,25(OH)2D3 receptor can be excluded, since a competitive binding assay revealed that the affinity of 25(OH)D3 for the 1,25(OH)2D3 receptor in a cytosolic extract of keratinocytes was 100-times lower than that of 1,25(OH)2D3. Thus, these results suggest that 1,25(OH)2D3 endogenously produced in keratinocytes from 25(OH)D3 is involved in the regulation of their growth and differentiation in vitro.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Binding, Competitive
  • Calcifediol / metabolism*
  • Calcifediol / pharmacology
  • Calcitriol / biosynthesis
  • Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Calcitriol / pharmacology
  • Cell Differentiation / drug effects
  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Fractionation
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Replication / drug effects
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Keratinocytes / drug effects
  • Keratinocytes / metabolism*
  • Protein Precursors / biosynthesis
  • Protein Precursors / immunology
  • Radioligand Assay
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Receptors, Steroid / metabolism
  • Thymidine / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Protein Precursors
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Receptors, Steroid
  • involucrin
  • Calcitriol
  • Calcifediol
  • Thymidine