Sunlight and vitamin D affect DNA damage, cell division and cell death in human lymphocytes: a cross-sectional study in South Australia

Visalini Nair-Shalliker*, Michael Fenech, Peta M. Forder, Mark S. Clements, Bruce K. Armstrong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


The ultraviolet (UV)-B spectrum in solar UV radiation is essential for stimulating the epidermal production of vitamin D but also damages DNA and causes cancer in exposed cells.We examined the role of solarUVin inducingDNAdamage inblood lymphocytes and the possible modulation of this damage by serum 25-hydroxy vitaminD(25(OH)D) in 207male and female participants from South Australia. Personal solar UVexposure was estimated from hours of outdoor exposure recalled at the time of blood collection for analysis of DNA damage in lymphocytes, using the cytokinesis-block micronucleus cytome (CBMN-cyt) assay and of serum 25(OH)D. We examined the association between solar UV exposure, serum 25(OH)D and DNA damage using multiple linear regression, with age, sex, body mass index and alcohol consumption as covariates. The frequency of cells with micronuclei (a biomarker of chromosome breakage or loss) increased with increasing sun exposure [% increase55.24; 95%confidence interval (CI): 0.35 to 10.37 P-value = 0.04] but cells with nucleoplasmic bridges (a biomarker of misrepair of DNA strand breaks or telomere end fusions) decreased (%increase = 28.38; 95%CI: -14.32 to -2.03 P-value = 0.01). There was also a fall in the nuclear division index (NDI) (% increase = -1.01; 95% CI: -2.00 to 0.00 P-value50.05), suggesting diminishedmitogenic response and, possibly, immune suppression. There was no overall relationship between 25(OH)D and DNA damage. There were, however, weak modulating effects of 25(OH)D on the associations of solar UV exposure with micronucleus formation and with NDI (P-interaction = 0.03 and 0.05, respectively), where the increase inmicronuclei and fall inNDIwith increasing solar UVwere greater at serum 25(OH)D levels <50 nmol/l. Thus, the influence of solar UV exposure in causing DNA damage or immune suppression in internal tissues may be stronger when vitamin D levels are low.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)609-614
Number of pages6
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Sunlight and vitamin D affect DNA damage, cell division and cell death in human lymphocytes: a cross-sectional study in South Australia'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this