The side chain of vitamin D3 is hydroxylated in a sequential manner by cytochrome P450scc (CYP11A1) to form 20-hydroxycholecalciferol, which can induce growth arrest and differentiation of both primary and immortalized epidermal keratinocytes. Since nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis, we examined the capability of 20-hydroxycholecalciferol to modulate the activity of NF-κB, using 1,25-dihydroxycholecalciferol (calcitriol) as a positive control. 20-hydroxycholecalciferol inhibits the activation of NFκB DNA binding activity as well as NF-κB-driven reporter gene activity in keratinocytes. Also, 20-hydroxycholecalciferol induced significant increases in the mRNA and protein levels of the NF-κB inhibitor protein, IκBα, in a time dependent manner, while no changes in total NF-κB-p65 mRNA or protein levels were observed. Another measure of NF-κB activity, p65 translocation from the cytoplasm into the nucleus was also inhibited in extracts of 20-hydroxycholecalciferol treated keratinocytes. Increased IκBα was concomitantly observed in cytosolic extracts of 20-hydroxycholecalciferol treated keratinocytes, as determined by immunoblotting and immunofluorescent staining. In keratinocytes lacking vitamin D receptor (VDR), 20-hydroxycholecalciferol did not affect IκBα mRNA levels, indicating that it requires VDR for its action on NF-κB activity. Comparison of the effects of calcitrol, hormonally active form of vitamin D3, with 20-hydrocholecalciferol show that both agents have a similar potency in inhibiting NF-κB. Since NF-κB is a major transcription factor for the induction of inflammatory mediators, our findings indicate that 20-hydroxycholecalciferol may be an effective therapeutic agent for inflammatory and hyperproliferative skin diseases. © 2009 Janjetovic et al.