Professor Rebecca S Mason and her group study vitamin D and the mechanisms which regulate calcium and phosphate concentrations and bone mass. These studies are directed towards better understanding the pathogenesis and treatment of osteoporosis and other bone disorders. A key finding of the research group was that vitamin D compounds, which are made in skin, also provide considerable protection from UV-induced DNA damage in human cells, mice and people. Mechanisms involved in skin protection from sunlight by vitamin D compounds and the search for cheap, safe and effective analogs for use in after-sun preparations are a major focus of the group's research.
Rebecca Mason graduated in Medicine at Sydney University in 1975. After hospital service, she completed a PhD on vitamin D at Sydney hospital, then moved to Royal North Shore Hospital in the Section of Endocrinology. In 1988, she accepted a position with the Department of Physiology, Sydney University, though still retains a position with Endocrinology and Cancer Genetics at RNSH.
Professor Mason has served on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research and on National Health and Medical Research Council Grant Review Panels for Endocrinology and Reproduction and Musculoskeletal Health. She is a member of the Technical Committee of the Commission Internationale de L'Eclairage (International Commission of Illumination) on Sunlight, Health and Vitamin D, a member of the Cancer Councils of Australia Working party on Sunlight and Vitamin D, and contributed to the recent update of Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Management of Cutaneous Melanoma (prevention chapter). In 2009, she received an award from the Fourteenth International Workshop on Vitamin D, held in Brugges, Belgium, in recognition of career contributions to Vitamin D research.
She is a Professor and Head of Physiology. She is acting Executive Director of the Bosch Institute. From 2002-7, she served as Associate Dean (Curriculum) and Chair of the University of Sydney Medical Program Committee for the Faculty of Medicine.
Rebecca Mason is President of the Australian and New Zealand Bone and Mineral Society, a Board member of Osteoporosis Australia and a member of the Australia and New Zealand Melanoma Trials Group.
Work in this laboratory is directed towards a better understanding of the problems of osteoporosis and its treatment and of protection from ultraviolet irradiation. Agents which regulate bone turnover and bone mass are studied in human bone cells using molecular techniques.
The work has shown that glucocorticoids, commonly used to treat immune diseases, but which increase fracture risk, not only impair bone forming cell activity, but by at least 2 mechanisms contribute to excessive bone resorption.
A novel phosphate regulator, FGF23 was shown to come principally from normal bone tissue under physiological conditions.
A number of studies were 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.
In relation to regulation of bone turnover, the group has shown that calcium, released from bone during the resorption phase, could act as a bone coupling agent to increase formation of new bone to replace that lost and so help to maintain bone mass. These studies also indicate that the new anti-osteoporosis agent, strontium, may act using similar pathways to calcium.
Vitamin D is important for normal bone and muscle function and is made in skin. Studies by this group have shown that in human skin cells and in mice, vitamin D compounds contribute in important ways 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.
Selected publications from 2005-
Eisman JA, Ebeling P, Flicker L, Hearnden N, Mason R, Pasco J, Reid I, Sambrook P, Stenmark J, Wark J. Recommendations from the vitamin D and calcium forum. Medicine Today 6:43-50, 2005.
Diamond TH, Eisman JAE, Mason RS, Nowson CA, Pasco JA, Sambrook PN, Wark JD. Vitamin D and adult bone health in Australia and New Zealand. Medical Journal of Australia 182: 281-285, 2005.
Everitt AV, Brand-Miller JC, Hilmer SN, Jamieson HA, Truswell AS, Sharma AP, Mason RS, Morris BJ, Le Couter DG. Dietary approaches that delay age-related diseases. Clinical interventions in Aging 1:11-31, 2006.
Dixon KM, Mason RS. Vitamin D Compounds: Novel Anticancer Effects. The International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology. 41: 982-985, 2009.Diamond T, Mason RS. The pleiotropic effects of Vitamin D: Understanding its importance for Bone and Systemic Health. Modern Medicine 10: 18-25, 2009.
Sequiera V, Dixon KD, Mason RS. Resisting the sun with vitamin D. In special edition Newly recognized actions of vitamin D3. Immunology, Endocrine and Metabolic Agents in Medicinal Chemistry 9:129-136, 2009.
Sivagurunathan S, Muir MM, Brennan TC, Seale PJ, Mason RS. Influence of glucocorticoids on human osteoclast generation and activity. J Bone Mineral Res 20:390-398, 2005.
Gordon-Thomson C, Jones J, Mason RS, Moore GPM. ErbB receptors mediate both migratory and proliferative activities in human melanocytes and melanoma cells. Melanoma Res 15: 21-28, 2005.
Dixon KM, Deo SS, Wong G, Slater M, Norman AW, Bishop JE, Posner GH, Ishizuka S, Halliday GM, Reeve VE, Mason RS. Skin cancer prevention: A possible role of 1,25dihydroxyvitamin D2 and its analogs. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 97: 137-143, 2005.
Stewart I, Roddie C, Gill A, Clarkson A, Mirams M, Coyle L, Ward C, Clifton-Bligh P, Robinson BG, Mason RS, Clifton-Bligh RJ. Elevated serum FGF23 concentrations in plasma cell dyscrasias. Bone 39:369-376, 2006.
Magdon Ismail FS, Rohanizadeh R, Atwa S, Mason RS, Ruys AJ, Martin PJ, Bendavid A. The influence of surface chemistry and topography on the contact guidance of MG63 osteoblast cells. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 18: 705-714, 2007.
Gupta R*, Dixon KM*, Deo SS, Holliday CJ, Slater M, Halliday GM, Reeve VE, Mason RS. Photoprotection by 1,25dihydroxyvitamin D is associated with an increase in p53 and a decrease in nitric oxide products. * joint first authors J Invest Dermatol 127:707-715, 2007. (featured on front cover and in online edition).
Ma WJ, Ruys AJ, Mason RS, Martin PJ, Bendavid A, Liu Z, Keast VJ, Zreiqat H. DLC coatings: Effects of physical and chemical properties on biological response. Biomaterials. 28:1620-1628, 2007.
Dixon KM, Deo SS, Norman AW, Bishop JE, Halliday GM, Reeve VE, Mason RS. The vitamin D rapid response pathway is relevant for in vivo photoprotection. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 103:451-456, 2007.
Brock, K, Cant R, Clemson L, Mason RS, Fraser DR. Effects of diet and exercise on plasma vitamin D (25(OH)D) levels in Vietnamese immigrant elderly in Sydney, Australia. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol 103:786-792, 2007.
Rohanizadeh R, Swain MV, Mason RS. Gelatin sponges (Gelfoam) as a scaffold for osteoblasts. Journal of Materials Science: Materials in Medicine 18:705-14, 2007.
Lee HJ, Mun H-C, Lewis NC, Culverston EL, Mason RS and Conigrave AD. Allosteric activation of the extracellular Ca2+ -sensing receptor by L-amino acids enhances ERK1/2 phosphorylation. Biochemical J 404:141-149, 2007.
Gorman S, L. Kuritzky A, Judge MA, Dixon KM, McGlade JP, Mason RS, Finlay-Jones JJ and Hart PH. Topically-applied 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 enhances the suppressive activity of CD4+CD25+ cells in the draining lymph nodes. J Immunol 179:6273-6283, 2007.
Javeri A, Huang XX, Bernerd F, Mason RS, Halliday GM. Human 8-oxoguanine-DNA glycosylase-1 protein and gene are expressed more abundantly in the superficial than basal layer of human epidermis. DNA Repair 7:1542-1550, 2008.
Sanchez Riera L, Wilson NM, Sambrook PN, Kok C, Cumming RG, Cameron ID, Chen JS, Simpson J, Mason RS, Seibel MJ, March LM. Trends in calcium and vitamin D usage among older people in nursing care facilities in Australia: still falling short of the guidelines. International Journal of Rheumatic Diseases 11: 430–434, 2008.
McCombie AM, Mason RS, Damian DL. Vitamin D deficiency in Sydney skin cancer patients. Med J Aust 190:102, 2009.
Huang HH, Brennan TC, Muir MM, Mason RS. Functional alpha-1 and beta-2-adrenergic receptors in human osteoblasts. J Cell Physiol 220:267-275, 2009.
Brennan TC, Rybchyn MS, Green W, Atwa S, Conigrave AD, Mason RS. Osteoblasts play key roles in the mechanisms of action of strontium ranelate. Brit J Pharmacol 157:1291-1300, 2009.
Damian D, Kim YJ, Dixon K, Halliday GM, Javeri A, Mason RS. Topical calcitriol protects from UV-induced genetic damage but suppresses immunity in humans. Experimental Dermatology. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2009.00955.x
Mak J, Stuart-Harris J, Cameron ID, Mason RS. Oral vitamin D replacement following hip fracture: A comparative review. J American Geriatrics Soc (in press, accepted 1/10/09)
Nowson CA, Diamond TH, Pasco JA, Mason RS, Sambrook PN, Eisman JAE. Vitamin D in Australia: Issues and recommendations. Australian Family Physician 33:133-138, 2004
Diamond TH, Eisman JAE, Mason RS, Nowson CA, Pasco JA, Sambrook PN, Wark JD. Vitamin D and adult bone health in Australia and New Zealand. Medical Journal of Australia 182: 281-285, 2005. (authors in alphabetical order)
Everitt AV, Brand-Miller JC, Hilmer SN, Jamieson HA, Truswell AS, Sharma AP, Mason RS, Morris BJ, Le Couter DG. Dietary approaches that delay age-related diseases. Clinical interventions in Aging 1:11-31, 2005.
Eisman JA, Ebeling P, Flicker L, Hearnden N, Mason R, Pasco J, Reid I, Sambrook P, Stenmark J, Wark J. Recommendations from the vitamin D and calcium forum. Medicine Today 6:43-50, 2005
Professor Rebecca S Mason Department of Physiology The University of Sydney NSW 2006 AUSTRALIA