Role of vitamin D metabolism in cutaneous tumour formation and progression

J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013 Jan;65(1):2-10. doi: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.2012.01527.x. Epub 2012 Apr 25.


Objectives: Very limited information is available on the role of vitamin D in skin carcinogenesis. For most individuals, skin cancer can be readily managed with surgery; however, some patients may face life-threatening neoplasia. Sun exposure, specifically UV radiation, is a causative agent for development of skin cancer, though, somewhat ironically, sunlight through the production of vitamin D may have protective effect against some skin cancers. This review focuses on the development and progression of cutaneous carcinogenesis and the role of vitamin D in the prevention of the initiation and progression of lethal skin cancers.

Key findings: Vitamin D is involved in regulation of multiple signalling pathways that have implications in carcinogenesis. Skin cancer metastasis depends on the tumour microenvironment, where vitamin D metabolites play a key role in prevention of certain molecular events involved in tumour progression. The vitamin D receptor (VDR) is a well-known potent regulator of cellular growth and differentiation.

Summary: The VDR's possible involvement in cell death, tumour microenvironment and angiogenesis makes it a candidate agent for cancer regulation.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antineoplastic Agents / metabolism
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / metabolism*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / radiation effects
  • Disease Progression
  • Humans
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / prevention & control
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / radiation effects
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / radiation effects
  • Skin / metabolism*
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Skin Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Skin Neoplasms / secondary
  • Stromal Cells / metabolism
  • Stromal Cells / radiation effects
  • Sunlight / adverse effects
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D / therapeutic use


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Vitamin D