Vitamin D-deficiency and sex-specific dysregulation of placental inflammation

Nancy Liu, Dean Larner, Q Yao, Rene Chun, Yuxin B Ouyang, Rui Zhou, Jennifer Tamblyn, Carol L Wagner, Martin Hewison

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13 Citations (Scopus)
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To investigate an immunomodulatory role for vitamin D in pregnancy we used mice raised on vitamin D-sufficient (SUFF), or -deficient (DEF) diets. At embryonic day 14, pregnant mice received intraperitoneal injection of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or vehicle for 24h, with age-matched non-pregnant mice as controls. In non-pregnant mice, 6 serum analytes (IL-1β, IL-18, MDC/CCL22, MIP-1α/CCL3, EGF, IgA) were lower in DEF mice. In pregnant DEF mice only GH was higher. In non-pregnant mice LPS induced 28 analytes, with 5 (IL-18, IP-10/CXCL10, MCP-1/CCL2, MIP-1β/CCL4, MIP-3β/CCL19) being highest in DEF mice. In pregnant SUFF mice 16 serum analytes increased with LPS, and 6 of these (IP-10/CXCL10, MCP-1/CCL2, SAP, TIMP-1, VCAM-1, vWF) were higher and 1 (GCP-2/CXCL6) lower in DEF mice. Parallel analysis of placental mRNAs showed elevated mRNA for Il-6, Ccl2 and Cxcl10 in placentae from male and female fetuses in LPS-DEF mice. However, LPS-induced expression of Ifnγ, Tnfα, and Cxcl6 was only observed in female placentae from DEF mice. LPS-DEF mice also showed smaller litter sizes relative to control SUFF mice. Numbers of female fetuses per dam were significantly lower for DEF mice with or without LPS challenge. LPS had no effect on numbers of male fetuses from DEF mothers, but significantly decreased male fetuses from SUFF mothers. These data indicate that vitamin D is an important component of anti-inflammatory immune responses during pregnancy, with the placenta and fetal sex playing pivotal roles in this process.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Early online date1 Jul 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Jul 2017


  • Vitamin D
  • Inflammation
  • Pregnancy
  • Placenta


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