In vitro model of vitamin D3 (Cholecalciferol) synthesis by UV radiation: Dose-response relationships

William J. Olds*, Alex R. McKinley, Michael R. Moore, Michael G. Kimlin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Vitamin D deficiency is a major health concern worldwide. Very little is understood regarding its production in the human body by exposure to UV radiation. In particular, we have no means of predicting how much vitamin D (cholecalciferol) will be produced in the skin after exposure to sunlight. Using a refined in vitro model, we found that there is a nonlinear relationship between UV dose and cholecalciferol synthesis. Two minimal erythemal doses (MED) of UV radiation produced 1.84 μg/mL of cholecalciferol whereas 4 MED produced 2.81 μg/mL. We also found that the production of cholecalciferol is restricted by the initial concentration of its precursor (7-dehydrocholesterol, 7-DHC). For example, using an initial concentration of 7-DHC of 102 μg/mL, the resultant cholecalciferol production was 1.05 μg/mL after receiving 4 MED exposure. Under the same exposure conditions, an initial concentration of 305 μg/mL yielded 2.81 g/mL of cholecalciferol. The data presented in this paper has important implications for humans, including: (1) increasing UV exposure does not result in a proportionate increase in the amount of cholecalciferol that is produced; and (2) the initial concentration of 7-DHC in the skin may impact the amount of cholecalciferol that can be synthesized. When translating these results to population groups, we will discuss how the sun exposure message needs to be carefully formulated to account for such considerations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)88-93
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2008
Externally publishedYes


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