Spectral character of sunlight modulates photosynthesis of previtamin D3 and its photoisomers in human skin

Science  28 May 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4549, pp. 1001-1003
DOI: 10.1126/science.6281884


The photosynthesis of previtamin D3 from 7-dehydrocholesterol in human skin was determined after exposure to narrow-band radiation or simulated solar radiation. The optimum wavelengths for the production of previtamin D3 were determined to be between 295 and 300 nanometers. When human skin was exposed to 295-nanometer radiation, up to 65 percent of the original 7-dehydrocholesterol content was converted to previtamin D3. In comparison, when adjacent skin was exposed to simulated solar radiation, the maximum formation of previtamin D3 was about 20 percent. Major differences in the formation of lumisterol3, and tachysterol3 from previtamin D3 were also observed. It is concluded that the spectral character of natural sunlight has a profound effect on the photochemistry of 7-dehydrocholesterol in human skin.