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 REVIEW ARTICLE
Year : 2013  |  Volume : 79  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 750--758

The role of vitamin D in melanogenesis with an emphasis on vitiligo


1 Department of Dermatology; Vitiligo Research Chair, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
2 Vitiligo Research Chair, College of Medicine, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Khalid AlGhamdi
Department of Dermatology, Vitiligo Research Chair, College of Medicine, King Saud University, P.O. Box 240997, Riyadh 11322
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0378-6323.120720

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Vitiligo is a common pigmentary disorder caused by the destruction of functional melanocytes. Vitamin D is an essential hormone synthesized in the skin and is responsible for skin pigmentation. Low levels of vitamin D have been observed in vitiligo patients and in patients with other autoimmune diseases. Therefore, the relationship between vitamin D and vitiligo needs to be investigated more thoroughly. We reviewed the literature to date regarding the role of vitamin D in skin pigmentation. Our review revealed that vitamin D deficiency has been identified in many conditions, including premature and dysmature birth, pigmented skin, obesity, advanced age, and malabsorption. Vitamin D increases melanogenesis and the tyrosinase content of cultured human melanocytes by its antiapoptotic effect. However, a few growth-inhibitory effects on melanocytes were also reported. Vitamin D regulates calcium and bone metabolism, controls cell proliferation and differentiation, and exerts immunoregulatory activities. Vitamin D exerts its effect via a nuclear hormone receptor for vitamin D. The topical application of vitamin D increased the number of L-3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine-positive melanocytes. The topical application of vitamin D yields significant results when used in combination with phototherapy and ultraviolet exposure to treat vitiligo in humans. Vitamin D decreases the expression of various cytokines that cause vitiligo. In conclusion, application of vitamin D might help in preventing destruction of melanocytes thus causing vitiligo and other autoimmune disorders. The association between low vitamin D levels and the occurrence of vitiligo and other forms of autoimmunity is to be further evaluated.






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