Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy is associated with increased risk of type 2 diabetes in offspring

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified an immune cell process that links vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in offspring.

Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have identified an immune cell process that links vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes in offspring. The researchers also found that these immune cells and the genes embedded in them could be used to transfer type 2 diabetes to healthy mice.

The study is published June 13 in Nature Communications.

Some theories of disease suggest that intrauterine conditions can have irreversible and lifelong effects on offspring. Carlos Bernal Mizrachi, M.D., Ph.D., the principal investigator of the new study, said the same could happen to children of mothers who do not get adequate levels of vitamin D during pregnancy.

Identifying modifiable environmental risk factors that may contribute to the future development of metabolic diseases is important for preventing and treating those diseases. The incidence of diabetes and prediabetes has tripled in recent decades, and we analyze environmental conditions during pregnancy that may help explain the increase, especially in children and adolescents. ”


Bernal-Mizrachi, Professor of Medicine, Department of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Lipid Research

About 37 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes, and at least 98 million more have pre-diabetes, which is characterized by the body’s resistance to insulin. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy affects an estimated 80% of black American women and 60% of white women and may be one of the factors that causes insulin resistance and increases the risk of diabetes in offspring. .

“A study of mice born to vitamin D-deficient mothers found that the animals developed insulin resistance and diabetes later in life,” said Professor Bernal Mizrachi. “That’s also true when pups are given adequate amounts of vitamin D after birth. Glycemic control in these animals improved, but never normalized.”

Researchers have identified a type of stem cell that can be irreversibly affected by vitamin D deficiency during development in utero. Stem cells develop into immune cells, and researchers found that by transplanting these stem cells into mice with normal vitamin D levels, diabetes could be transplanted into other animals. The researchers concluded that inadequate levels of vitamin D in the uterus may program immune cells to promote the development of diabetes and prevent this process.

In these experiments, researchers found that immune cells activate genetic processes. This is the same process activated by immune cells taken from mothers who had insufficient vitamin D levels at birth.

Prenatal vitamins are prescribed to ensure adequate levels of important nutrients during pregnancy, but the results of these studies by Bernal-Mizarachi et al. This suggests that it may not be enough to normalize low vitamin D levels in women. pregnancy.

The processes the researchers identified in mouse fetuses were characterized by changes in specific genes. Altered gene programs were identified in stem cells that later developed into immune cells such as macrophages. The research team found that these macrophages secrete molecules that impair the glucose storage capacity of adipose tissue, resulting in elevated blood sugar levels.

“Macrophages, derived from vitamin D-deficient stem cells, enter adipose tissue and cause inflammation, causing the adipose tissue to become insulin-resistant,” said Bernal Mizrachi, who is also medical director of the St. Louis Department of Health, VA. care system.

Importantly, the researchers found evidence that the same processes that promote adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance also work in humans. Immune cells isolated from umbilical cord blood of vitamin D-deficient pregnant patients treated by doctors at the University of Washington showed alterations in immune cell genes and secreted molecules similar to those previously identified in mice.

sauce:

University of Washington School of Medicine

Reference magazines:

Oh J. other. (2023). Fetal vitamin D deficiency programs hematopoietic stem cells to induce type 2 diabetes. Nature Communications. doi.org/10.1038/s41467-023-38849-z.

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