Vitamin D effects on pregnancy and the placenta

J. S. Shin, M. Y. Choi, M. S. Longtine, D. M. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

205 Scopus citations


Vitamin D is a pleiotropic secosteroid hormone important for health and disease prevention. The actions of vitamin D are mediated by the vitamin D receptor that binds the active form of vitamin D [1,25(OH)2D] to induce both transcriptional and non-genomic responses. Vitamin D has well known classical functions in calcium uptake and bone metabolism, but more recent work highlights the importance of the nonclassical actions of vitamin D in a variety of cell types. These actions include modulation of the innate and adaptive immune systems and regulation of cell proliferation. Adequate vitamin D intake is essential for maternal and fetal health during pregnancy, and epidemiological data indicate that many pregnant women have sub-optimal vitamin D levels. Notably, vitamin D deficiency correlates with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes mellitus, and bacterial vaginosis, and an increased risk for C-section delivery. Recent work emphasizes the importance of nonclassical roles of vitamin D in pregnancy and the placenta. The placenta produces and responds to vitamin D where vitamin D functions as a modulator of implantation, cytokine production and the immune response to infection. We describe vitamin D metabolism and the cellular responses to vitamin D, and then summarize the role of vitamin D in placental trophoblast, pregnancy and the fetus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1034
Number of pages8
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Trophoblast
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin D receptor


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