Vitamin D is a well-recognised immune modulator, and vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is hypothesised to influence disease development in offspring.
A new study has demonstrated for the first time that prenatal vitamin D supplements can positively modify the immune system of neonates, which could help to protect against asthma and respiratory infections.
As part of the study, women were randomised to receive either a supplement of 4,400IU of vitamin D3 per day during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy versus the recommended daily intake (RDI) of 400IU/day.
Supplementation with 4400IU resulted in an enhanced broad-spectrum proinflammatory cytokine response of cord blood mononuclear cells to innate and mitogenic stimuli, with an average 1.7- to 2.1-fold increase in levels of several proinflammatory cytokines (GM-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-1β, IL-6, and IL-8), a higher gene expression level of TLR2 and TLR9, a greater than 4-fold increase in IL-17A production after polyclonal T-cell stimulation, and an enhanced IL-10 response of cord blood mononuclear cells to dexamethasone treatment in culture.
The findings are published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology .