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J Reprod Immunol. 2009 Jul;81(1):17-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jri.2009.02.005. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

Calcitriol inhibits TNF-alpha-induced inflammatory cytokines in human trophoblasts.

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Department of Reproductive Biology, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubirán, Vasco de Quiroga No. 15, Tlalpan 14000, México, D.F, Mexico.


Elevated placental proinflammatory cytokine release is associated with miscarriage, preterm labor and preeclampsia. Specifically, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha)-induced cytokines may threaten pregnancy outcome. Since trophoblasts produce calcitriol, a hormone with strong immunosuppressive properties, we assessed the effects of this secosteroid on inflammatory cytokines induced in trophoblasts by challenge with TNF-alpha. The effects of calcitriol on synthesis of mRNAs encoding interleukin-6 (IL-6), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), and TNF-alpha were measured by real time RT-PCR. Secreted cytokines were quantified by ELISA. The effects of TNF-alpha on CYP24A1, chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), 3beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase (HSD3B1) and P(450)-aromatase (CYP19) mRNA expression were also studied. TNF-alpha stimulated IL-6, IFN-gamma and its own expression more than 3-fold over controls (P<0.05). Calcitriol inhibited the expression profile of inflammatory cytokine genes in a dose-response manner (P<0.05). This effect was prevented by addition of the vitamin D receptor antagonist TEI-9647. TNF-alpha also significantly inhibited expression of hCG, HSD3B1 and CYP19 genes, and stimulated CYP24A1 gene expression. These data show that calcitriol prevents TNF-alpha induction of inflammatory cytokines through a process likely to be mediated by the vitamin D receptor. We conclude that TNF-alpha inhibits placental hormone synthesis and stimulates calcitriol catabolism by regulating enzymes involved in these processes.

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