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.
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin D receptor