Indexed on: 29 Jul '03Published on: 29 Jul '03Published in: Melanoma research
1alpha,25-Dihydroxyvitamin D(3) [1,25-(OH)(2)D(3)] has been shown to induce cell growth arrest and to possess differentiation-inducing behaviour in both primary melanocytes and melanoma cell lines. Moreover, in several melanoma cell lines it has been demonstrated that the antiproliferative action is accompanied by an increase in apoptosis. In contrast, here we show that physiological concentrations of 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) did not induce apoptosis in primary melanocytes despite a cell growth inhibitory effect. Furthermore, treatment with 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) made melanocytes resistant to several inductors of programmed cell death, including tumour necrosis factor-alpha and ultraviolet radiation. The antiapoptotic effect of 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) was completely abolished by the addition of N,N-dimethylsphingosine, which blocks the formation of the sphingolipid degradation product sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P), suggesting a crucial role for this sphingolipid in 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3)-mediated cytoprotection. Indeed, stimulation of melanocytes with S1P also resulted in an antiapoptotic action. In addition, S1P induced cell growth arrest of human melanocytes. This was an unexpected finding, as S1P is generally known as a potent mitogenic molecule in a variety of cells, including fibroblasts. As both 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) and S1P have been identified to modify the Bcl-2/Bax ratio in epithelial cells, we also measured the expressions of these proteins; however, treatment of melanocytes with either 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) or S1P did not alter the Bcl-2/Bax ratio. In conclusion, 1,25-(OH)(2)D(3) was shown to protect human melanocytes from apoptosis by formation of S1P, which is opposite to its apoptotic action in diverse melanoma cell lines.