Open Access Research

An observational study reveals that neonatal vitamin D is primarily determined by maternal contributions: implications of a new assay on the roles of vitamin D forms

Spyridon N Karras1, Iltaf Shah2, Andrea Petroczi2, Dimitrios G Goulis1, Helen Bili1, Fotini Papadopoulou3, Vikentia Harizopoulou1, Basil C Tarlatzis1 and Declan P Naughton2*

Author Affiliations

1 Unit of Reproductive Endocrinology, First Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece

2 School of Life Sciences, Kingston University London, London, UK

3 Department of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, Panagia General Hospital, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Nutrition Journal 2013, 12:77  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-12-77

Published: 7 June 2013

Abstract

Background

Vitamin D concentrations during pregnancy are measured to diagnose states of insufficiency or deficiency. The aim of this study is to apply accurate assays of vitamin D forms [single- hydroxylated [25(OH)D2, 25(OH)D3], double-hydroxylated [1α,25(OH)2D2, 1α,25(OH)2D3], epimers [3-epi-25(OH)D2, 3-epi-25(OH)D3] in mothers (serum) and neonates (umbilical cord) to i) explore maternal and neonatal vitamin D biodynamics and ii) to identify maternal predictors of neonatal vitamin D concentrations.

Methods

All vitamin D forms were quantified in 60 mother- neonate paired samples by a novel liquid chromatography -mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) assay. Maternal characteristics [age, ultraviolet B exposure, dietary vitamin D intake, calcium, phosphorus and parathyroid hormone] were recorded. Hierarchical linear regression was used to predict neonatal 25(OH)D concentrations.

Results

Mothers had similar concentrations of 25(OH)D2 and 25(OH)D3 forms compared to neonates (17.9 ± 13.2 vs. 15.9 ± 13.6 ng/mL, p = 0.289) with a ratio of 1:3. The epimer concentrations, which contribute approximately 25% to the total vitamin D levels, were similar in mothers and neonates (4.8 ± 7.8 vs. 4.5 ± 4.7 ng/mL, p = 0.556). No correlation was observed in mothers between the levels of the circulating form (25OHD3) and its active form. Neonatal 25(OH)D2 was best predicted by maternal characteristics, whereas 25(OH)D3 was strongly associated to maternal vitamin D forms (R2 = 0.253 vs. 0.076 and R2 = 0.109 vs. 0.478, respectively). Maternal characteristics explained 12.2% of the neonatal 25(OH)D, maternal 25(OH)D concentrations explained 32.1%, while epimers contributed an additional 11.9%.

Conclusions

By applying a novel highly specific vitamin D assay, the present study is the first to quantify 3-epi-25(OH)D concentrations in mother - newborn pairs. This accurate assay highlights a considerable proportion of vitamin D exists as epimers and a lack of correlation between the circulating and active forms. These results highlight the need for accurate measurements to appraise vitamin D status. Maternal characteristics and circulating forms of vitamin D, along with their epimers explain 56% of neonate vitamin D concentrations. The roles of active and epimer forms in the maternal - neonatal vitamin D relationship warrant further investigation.

Keywords:
Pregnancy; LC-MS/MS; Vitamin D epimer; Assay; 25(OH)D