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J Immunol. 2011 May 15;186(10):5968-74. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1003332. Epub 2011 Apr 11.

Vitamin D and the regulation of placental inflammation.

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Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center, University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.


The vitamin D-activating enzyme 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1) and vitamin D receptor (VDR) support anti-inflammatory responses to vitamin D in many tissues. Given the high basal expression of CYP27B1 and VDR in trophoblastic cells from the placenta, we hypothesized that anti-inflammatory effects of vitamin D may be particularly important in this organ. Pregnant wild type (WT) mice i.p. injected with LPS showed elevated expression of mouse Cyp27b1 (4-fold) and VDR (6-fold). Similar results were also obtained after ex vivo treatment of WT placentas with LPS. To assess the functional impact of this, we carried out ex vivo studies using placentas -/- for fetal (trophoblastic) Cyp27b1 or VDR. Vehicle-treated -/- placentas showed increased expression of IFN-γ and decreased expression of IL-10 relative to +/+ placentas. LPS-treated -/- placentas showed increased expression of TLR2, IFN-γ, and IL-6. Array analyses identified other inflammatory factors that are dysregulated in Cyp27b1(-/-) versus Cyp27b1(+/+) placentas after LPS challenge. Data highlighted enhanced expression of IL-4, IL-15, and IL-18, as well as several chemokines and their receptors, in Cyp27b1(-/-) placentas. Similar results for IL-6 expression were observed with placentas -/- for trophoblastic VDR. Finally, ex vivo treatment of WT placentas with the substrate for Cyp27b1, 25-hydroxyvitamin D(3), suppressed LPS-induced expression of IL-6 and the chemokine Ccl11. These data indicate that fetal (trophoblastic) vitamin D plays a pivotal role in controlling placental inflammation. In humans, this may be a key factor in placental responses to infection and associated adverse outcomes of pregnancy.

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