Oral Vitamin D Rapidly Attenuates Inflammation from Sunburn: An Interventional Study

Jeffrey Scott, Lopa M. Das, Sayeeda Ahsanuddin, Yuqi Qiu, Amy M. Binko, Zachary P. Traylor, Sara M. Debanne, Kevin D. Cooper, Rebecca Boxer, Kurt Q. Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The diverse immunomodulatory effects of vitamin D are increasingly being recognized. However, the ability of oral vitamin D to modulate acute inflammation in vivo has not been established in humans. In a double-blinded, placebo-controlled interventional trial, 20 healthy adults were randomized to receive either placebo or a high dose of vitamin D 3 (cholecalciferol) one hour after experimental sunburn induced by an erythemogenic dose of UVR. Compared with placebo, participants receiving vitamin D 3 (200,000 international units) demonstrated reduced expression of proinflammatory mediators tumor necrosis factor-α (P = 0.04) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (P = 0.02) in skin biopsy specimens 48 hours after experimental sunburn. A blinded, unsupervised hierarchical clustering of participants based on global gene expression profiles revealed that participants with significantly higher serum vitamin D 3 levels after treatment (P = 0.007) demonstrated increased skin expression of the anti-inflammatory mediator arginase-1 (P = 0.005), and a sustained reduction in skin redness (P = 0.02), correlating with significant expression of genes related to skin barrier repair. In contrast, participants with lower serum vitamin D 3 levels had significant expression of proinflammatory genes. Together the data may have broad implications for the immunotherapeutic properties of vitamin D in skin homeostasis, and implicate arginase-1 upregulation as a previously unreported mechanism by which vitamin D exerts anti-inflammatory effects in humans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2078-2086
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Investigative Dermatology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2017
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Dermatology
  • Cell Biology

Cite this

Scott, J., Das, L. M., Ahsanuddin, S., Qiu, Y., Binko, A. M., Traylor, Z. P., ... Lu, K. Q. (2017). Oral Vitamin D Rapidly Attenuates Inflammation from Sunburn: An Interventional Study. Journal of Investigative Dermatology, 137(10), 2078-2086. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jid.2017.04.040