Vitamin D found to fight placental infection

Dec 01, 2008

In a paper available at the online site of the journal Biology of Reproduction, a team of UCLA researchers reports for the first time that vitamin D induces immune responses in placental tissues by stimulating production of the antimicrobial protein cathelicidin.

The study involved exposing cultured human trophoblast cells to the active form of vitamin D, leading to production of cathelicidin and an increased antibacterial response in the trophoblast cells.

The team, headed by Dr. Martin Hewison, suspects that the ability of the placenta to synthesize cathelicidin varies widely among women. Their discovery suggests that placental innate immunity can be enhanced if pregnant women supplement their diets with vitamin D.

Induction of cathelicidin production by vitamin D may help the placenta stave off infection by a variety of pathogenic organisms, including staphylococcus, streptococcus, and E. coli bacteria. Vitamin D may also enhance and sustain this bacterial killing by protecting placental trophoblast cells from infection-associated cell death.

The significance of vitamin D in human reproduction has been recognized for the past 20 years, although its exact role has not been completely understood. This study presents a new mechanism for activation of innate immune responses in the placenta to protect it from infectious bacteria and sheds new light on the possible role of vitamin D in pregnancy and pregnancy-associated infection.

Source: Society for the Study of Reproduction

Explore further: Extended pre-cessation bupropion helps smokers quit

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mystery giant Mars plumes still unexplained

13 minutes ago

On Feb. 16, an international group of researchers proposed new hypotheses about some unusual plumes spotted by amateur astronomers on Mars in 2012. The plumes were seen rising to altitudes of over 250 km ...

When performance comparisons spur risky behavior

15 minutes ago

When you're at work, there are two types of people you compete with: People with similar responsibilities at your own company, and rivals with similar duties at other companies. How do those different flavors ...

Where do stars form in merging galaxies?

15 minutes ago

Collisions between galaxies, and even less dramatic gravitational encounters between them, are recognized as triggering star formation. Observations of luminous galaxies, powered by starbursts, are consistent ...

Recommended for you

Extended pre-cessation bupropion helps smokers quit

1 hour ago

(HealthDay)—Extended pre-quit bupropion is associated with reduced smoking behavior during the pre-quit period and improved short-term abstinence rates, according to a study published online Jan. 14 in ...

Medical device surveillance on the horizon

2 hours ago

Thousands of people around the world have been exposed to toxic chemicals generated by their metal hip implants. Similarly, many patients have contracted infections from pieces of implanted mesh used in hernia-repair surgery, ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.