Bone and Skin Laboratory

Lab head: Rebecca Mason
Location: F13 - Anderson Stuart Building

Work in this laboratory is directed towards a better understanding of the problem of osteoporosis and its treatment. Mechanisms that regulate bone turnover and bone mass are studied in human bone cells using molecular techniques. Studies are also undertaken, in collaboration with biomedical engineering, to test the ability of a variety of synthetic materials which could be used for bone implants, to support the growth of bone cells.

Vitamin D is important for normal bone and muscle function and is made in skin. Studies by this group have shown that in skin, vitamin D compounds contribute to protection from ultraviolet/sun damage. Examination of how this photoprotective effect is produced is also a focus of the laboratory and may lead to new agents to enhance sun protection.

Lab members: R Mason (head)

Role of vitamin D and other compounds in the protection of skin cells from UV

Primary supervisor: Rebecca Mason

Our group has shown that vitamin D compounds, which are well known to be made in skin, have an important physiological function in skin to protect skin cells from the damaging effects of UV radiation. Cell death, mainly by apoptosis after UV exposure, is significantly reduced in skin cells after treatment with vitamin D metabolites. We have also shown that DNA damage is reduced in surviving cells. We now have evidence that the protective effects, including protection from UV-induced immunosuppression and photocarcinogenesis are present in mice. Preliminary studies also show a reduction in sunburn cells and DNA damage in human subjects.

The project will examine likely mechanisms of action of the vitamin D compounds. These are likely to include enhanced activity of the tumour suppressor p53 and reduced nitric oxide products and a possible novel mechanism of DNA damage.


Discipline: Physiology
Contact: Email Rebecca Mason