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: Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Plastic nanoparticles also harm freshwater organisms

35 minutes ago

Organisms can be negatively affected by plastic nanoparticles, not just in the seas and oceans but in freshwater bodies too. These particles slow the growth of algae, cause deformities in water fleas and impede communication ...

Atomic trigger shatters mystery of how glass deforms

37 minutes ago

Throw a rock through a window made of silica glass, and the brittle, insulating oxide pane shatters. But whack a golf ball with a club made of metallic glass—a resilient conductor that looks like metal—and the glass not ...

US company sells out of Ebola toys

9 hours ago

They might look tasteless, but satisfied customers dub them cute and adorable. Ebola-themed toys have proved such a hit that one US-based company has sold out.

UN biodiversity meet commits to double funding

9 hours ago

A UN conference on preserving the earth's dwindling resources wrapped up Friday with governments making a firm commitment to double biodiversity aid to developing countries by 2015.

Recommended for you

Study reveals state of crisis in Canadian foster care system

3 hours ago

A new study of foster care in Canada led by a researcher at Western University reveals a shrinking number of foster care providers are available across the country to care for a growing number of children with increasingly ...

Researchers prove the benefits of persimmons for diet

5 hours ago

Alba Mir and Ana Domingo, researchers from the Department of Analytical Chemistry of the University of Valencia, under the supervision of professors Miguel de la Guardia and Maria Luisa Cervera, from the same department, ...

User comments : 0