Exploring vitamin D signalling within skin cancer

Neda Vishlaghi, Thomas S. Lisse

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Sunlight exposure of the skin is associated with both risks and benefits. On one hand, sunlight ultraviolet (UV) radiation can cause skin cancer through signature DNA mutations. On the other hand, it can be absorbed in the skin by 7-dehydrocholesterol to instigate endogenous synthesis of vitamin D to regulate anticancer effects. Thus, protecting one's skin from sunlight to avoid skin cancer may lead to impaired vitamin D levels arguing for sensible sun exposure practices. To limit cancer, vitamin D metabolites can promote uncharacterized and diverse sets of events such as repair responses to DNA damage, apoptosis of malignant cells, and suppression of immune surveillance, proliferation and angiogenesis. Recent findings also suggest that part of the anticancer effects of vitamin D within squamous cell carcinoma—a type of skin cancer most directly linked to sun exposure—involves the DDIT4-mTOR catabolic signalling pathway to enhance cell autophagy. As mTOR activity and cellular metabolism are modulated as part of the DNA damage response, insights into the means by which mTOR can be controlled by vitamin D to suppress cancer is of molecular and clinical importance. Overall, the research so far suggests that presence of vitamin D through sunlight exposure and supplementation are beneficial for human health in the face of cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-281
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Endocrinology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • basal cell carcinoma
  • cancer
  • DDIT4
  • DDR
  • DNA damage response
  • DNA repair
  • hair follicle
  • keratinocyte
  • mTOR
  • REDD1
  • skin
  • skin cancer
  • squamous cell carcinoma
  • sunlight
  • tumour
  • UV
  • VDR
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin D deficiency
  • vitamin D receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology


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