Vitamin D, the placenta and early pregnancy: effects on trophoblast function

Ankana Ganguly, Jennifer Ann Tamblyn, Sarah Finn-Sell, Shiao-Yng Chan, Melissa Westwood, Janesh Gupta, Mark Kilby, Stephane R Gross, Martin Hewison

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Pregnancy is associated with significant changes in vitamin D metabolism, notably increased maternal serum levels of active vitamin D, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin (1,25(OH)2D). This appears to be due primarily to increased renal activity of the enzyme 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1) that catalyzes synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D, but CYP27B1 expression is also prominent in both the maternal decidua and fetal trophoblast components of the placenta. The precise function of placental synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D remains unclear, but is likely to involve localised tissue-specific responses with both decidua and trophoblast also expressing the vitamin D receptor (VDR) for 1,25(OH)2D. We have previously described immunomodulatory responses to 1,25(OH)2D by diverse populations of VDR-expressing cells within the decidua. The aim of the current review is to detail the role of vitamin D in pregnancy from a trophoblast perspective, with particular emphasis on the potential role of 1,25(OH)2D as a regulator of trophoblast invasion in early pregnancy. Vitamin D-deficiency is common in pregnant women, and a wide range of studies have linked low vitamin D status to adverse events in pregnancy. To date most of these studies have focused on adverse events later in pregnancy, but the current review will explore the potential impact of vitamin D on early pregnancy, and how this may influence implantation and miscarriage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R93–R103
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number2
Early online date6 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Bibliographical note

Disclaimer: this is not the definitive version of record of this article.This manuscript has been accepted for publication in Journal of Endocrinology, but the version presented here has not yet been copy-edited, formatted or proofed. Consequently, Bioscientifica accepts no responsibility for any errors or omissions it may contain. The definitive version is now freely available at[2017]

Funding: Action Medical Research (#1949 to MK & MH), 409 and Wellbeing of Women (RTF401, JAT), Medical Research Council grant MR/M02296X/1
410 (MW & SF-S), and a Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award (WM130118 to MH)


  • vitamin D
  • pregnancy
  • placenta
  • trophoblast
  • miscarriage


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