Journal Article

Narrow-band ultraviolet B exposure increases serum vitamin D levels in haemodialysis patients

Meri J. Ala-Houhala, Katja Vähävihu, Taina Hasan, Hannu Kautiainen, Erna Snellman, Piia Karisola, Yvonne Dombrowski, Jürgen Schauber, Heikki Saha and Timo Reunala

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 27, issue 6, pages 2435-2440
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online December 2011 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Narrow-band ultraviolet B exposure increases serum vitamin D levels in haemodialysis patients

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Chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients are especially prone to vitamin D insufficiency. Narrow-band ultraviolet B (NB-UVB) treatment increases serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in dermatological patients, and we studied whether it also improves vitamin D balance in CKD patients on haemodialysis.


Fifteen dialysis patients (mean age 48.3 years) and 12 healthy subjects (mean age 43.6 years) received nine NB-UVB exposures on the upper body. Serum 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D were measured before and after the exposures. From skin biopsy specimen messenger RNA (mRNA) expression levels of CYP24A1 and CYP27B1, two enzymes needed for hydroxylation of vitamin D into its active metabolites, and of antimicrobial peptide cathelicidin, were examined.


Before NB-UVB, mean serum 25(OH)D was 32.5 ± 10.2 nmol/L in the dialysis patients and 60.2 ± 18.0 nmol/L in the healthy subjects (P < 0.001). After eight NB-UVB exposures, serum 25(OH)D increased by 13.8 nmol/L (43%; P < 0.001) and serum 1,25(OH)2D by 3.3 pmol/L (27%; P = 0.002) in the dialysis patients. After NB-UVB exposures, CYP27B1 mRNA was increased (P = 0.04), whereas cathelicidin mRNA was decreased (P < 0.0001) compared to non-treated healthy subjects. One and 2 months after NB-UVB exposure, serum 25(OH)D was still 10% higher than initially in the dialysis patients.


The present study shows that a short course of NB-UVB exposure increases significantly serum 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D in dialysis patients. The effect is, however, short lasting suggesting that the patients need cyclic NB-UVB exposure to maintain their improved vitamin D concentration.

Keywords: chronic kidney disease; haemodialysis; ultraviolet B radiation; vitamin D

Journal Article.  3434 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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