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Bone Abstracts (2019) 7 IS8 | DOI: 10.1530/boneabs.7.IS8

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Vitamin D in pregnancy and offspring immunology

Catherine Hawrylowicz1, Eve Hornsby1, Charlotte Cheadle1, Paul Pfeffer1, Nancy Laranjo2, William Cruikshank3, Marina Tuzova3, Augusto A Litonjua2,4, Scott T Weiss2,4, Vincent J Carey2,4 & George O’Connor3

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1Asthma UK Centre for Allergic Mechanisms in Asthma, School of Immunology and Microbial Sciences, College London; 2Channing Division of Network Medicine, Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston; 3Pulmonary Center, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston; 4Harvard Medical School, Boston.


Vitamin D deficiency in pregnancy is common, and is linked to increased risk of adverse outcomes including preterm birth, preeclampsia, infection, gestational diabetes and asthma. Vitamin D possesses well-recognized immunomodulatory functions, and programming of the immune system during foetal development can influence asthma-related risk factors and health outcomes in later life. We hypothesized that influencing vitamin D status during pregnancy would impact the immune profile of the baby at birth. The effect of maternal supplementation with 4400 IU/d vitamin D3 from the end of the first trimester of pregnancy through to term on neonatal immunity was investigated using a subset of cord blood samples from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial (the Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial). Cord blood samples from neonates born to mothers supplemented with 4400 IU/d (n=26) or 400 IU/d (n=25) of vitamin D3 were analysed for immune cell composition and function by flow cytometry quantitative PCR, and cytokine secretion by cytometric bead array. Higher maternal supplementation of 4400 IU/d resulted in an enhanced broad-spectrum pro-inflammatory cytokine response to TLR-ligation and mitogen stimulation, that corresponded with higher gene expression for select TLR, a trend for increased frequency of myeloid dendritic cells and a four-fold increase in IL-17A secretion following T cell receptor stimulation. Parallel in vitro studies increasingly implicate immunoregulatory pathways in the neonate that are distinct from those in adults, and emerging data on a potential role for neutrophils will be discussed. We conclude that increasing vitamin D status in the mother during pregnancy influences the immune profile of her baby. This is predicted to have a beneficial impact and reduce asthma-related risk factors, such as infection, in early life.

Disclosure: The authors declared no competing interests.

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Volume 7

9th International Conference on Children's Bone Health

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