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Diet & Health : Children & Women Last Updated: Apr 20, 2011 - 9:38:09 AM

Vitamin D fights placental infection -study
By David Liu Ph.D.
Dec 2, 2008 - 6:58:56 AM

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Tuesday Dec 2, 2008 ( -- A study at UCLA suggests that supplementation of vitamin D during pregnancy can help women stave off a variety of placental infections.

The study published in the journal of Biology of Reproduction showed for the first time that vitamin D induced immune responses in placental tissue by stimulating production of cathelicidin, an antibacterial protein.

For the study, Dr. Martin Hewison and colleagues exposed cultured human trophoblast cells to the active form of vitamin D and found that the vitamin increased the production of cathelicidin and the antibacterial response in the trophoblast cells.

The researchers said taking vitamin D during pregnancy can enhance placental innate immunity against a range of infections by pathogenic organisms, including staphylococcus, streptococcus, and E. coli bacteria by stimulating the production of cathelicidin.

Vitamin D, according to the researchers, can also enhance and sustain the bacterial killing by protecting the placental trophoblast cells from infection-associated cell death.

It’s been known for about 20 years that vitamin D is important for human reproduction although exactly how it works remains have remained unknown until now, according to a press release by the Society for the Study of Reproduction.

This study provides a mechanism to understand vitamin D associated innate immune responses in the placenta in pregnancy and pregnancy-associated infection.

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