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Constitutive melanin density is associated with higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D and potentially total body BMD in older Caucasian adults via increased sun tolerance and exposure


Thompson, MJW and Jones, G and Aitken, DA, Constitutive melanin density is associated with higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D and potentially total body BMD in older Caucasian adults via increased sun tolerance and exposure, Osteoporosis International, 29, (8) pp. 1887-1895. ISSN 0937-941X (2018) [Refereed Article]

Copyright Statement

Copyright 2018 International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation

DOI: doi:10.1007/s00198-018-4568-8


Summary: Greater skin pigmentation reduces dose equivalent cutaneous vitamin D3 production, potentially impacting lifetime vitamin D status and fracture risk. We show that melanin density was positively associated with 25-hydroxyvitamin D and total body bone mineral density. These relationships were partially explained by greater sun exposure due to more permissive skin phenotype.

Introduction: Higher cutaneous melanin reduces vitamin D3 production. This may impact lifetime vitamin D status and increase fracture risk. This study aimed to describe the relationship between spectrophotometrically determined constitutive melanin density, osteoporotic risk factors and potential intermediaries in a cohort of exclusively older Caucasian adults.

Methods: One thousand seventy-two community-dwelling adults aged 50-80 years had constitutive melanin density quantified using spectrophotometry. Sun exposure, skin phenotype, non-melanoma skin cancer (NMSC) prevalence and smoking status were assessed by questionnaire. Bone mineral density (BMD), falls risk, physical activity and 25-hydroxyvitamin D were measured using DXA, the short form Physiological Profile Assessment, pedometer and radioimmunoassay, respectively.

Results: Higher melanin density was independently associated with greater ability to tan (RR = 1.27, p < 0.001), less propensity to sunburn (RR = 0.92, p < 0.001), fewer lifetime sunburns (RR = 0.94, p = 0.01), current smoking (RR = 1.41, p < 0.001), female sex (RR = 1.24, p < 0.001) and less photodamage (RR = 0.98, p = 0.01). The associations between melanin density and sun exposure (RR = 1.05-1.11, p < 0.001-0.01), sun protection behaviours (RR = 0.89, p < 0.001) and NMSC prevalence (RR = 0.75, p = 0.001) were no longer significant after taking into account skin phenotype and sun exposure, respectively. 25-Hydroxyvitamin D was strongly associated with higher melanin density (β = 1.71-2.05, p = 0.001). The association between melanin density and total body BMD (β = 0.007, p = 0.04) became non-significant after adjustment for 25-hydroxyvitamin D. There was no association between melanin density and physical activity, falls risk or BMD at other sites.

Conclusions: Our data support a model of higher constitutive melanin density underpinning a less photosensitive skin phenotype, permitting greater sun exposure with fewer sequelae and yielding higher 25-hydroxyvitamin D and, potentially, total body BMD.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:BMD, fracture risk, melanin density, skin pigmentation, vitamin D
Research Division:Biomedical and Clinical Sciences
Research Group:Clinical sciences
Research Field:Rheumatology and arthritis
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Clinical health
Objective Field:Clinical health not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Thompson, MJW (Dr Michael Thompson)
UTAS Author:Jones, G (Professor Graeme Jones)
UTAS Author:Aitken, DA (Associate Professor Dawn Aitken)
ID Code:126493
Year Published:2018
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2018-06-14
Last Modified:2019-03-07

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