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Current Pharmaceutical Design


ISSN (Print): 1381-6128
ISSN (Online): 1873-4286

Review Article

Maternal Vitamin D and its Role in Determining Fetal Origins of Mental Health

Author(s): Giulia Lisi*, Michele Ribolsi, Alberto Siracusano and Cinzia Niolu

Volume 26 , Issue 21 , 2020

Page: [2497 - 2509] Pages: 13

DOI: 10.2174/1381612826666200506093858

Price: $65


There is evidence that mental health disorders may have roots in fetal life and are associated with deficiencies in various micronutrients, including vitamin D. During pregnancy, vitamin D balance is influenced by an increase in maternal calcitriol and a substantial increase in maternal Vitamin D Binding Protein concentrations. In the early stages of life, vitamin D is necessary to mediate numerous brain processes such as proliferation, apoptosis, and neurotransmission. Furthermore, Vitamin D has a recognized anti-inflammatory activity that normally suppresses inflammation. Increased activation of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA) and inflammation during gestation may influence maternal health and fetal neurodevelopment during and beyond pregnancy. A deficit of Vitamin D and maternal stressful events during gestation, such as perinatal depression, could influence the efficacy of the immune system altering its activity.

Vitamin D deficiency during gestation associated with a reduction in fetal brain development has been widely described and correlated with alteration in the production of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor. To this regard, many studies highlights that low maternal vitamin D dosage during gestation has been related to a significantly greater risk to develop schizophrenia and other severe mental illnesses in later life. The objective of this paper is a comprehensive overview of maternal vitamin D balance in determining the fetal origins of mental health with some references to the link between vitamin D levels, inflammatory responses to stress and mental disorders in adult life.

Keywords: Vitamin D, perinatal depression, pregnancy, neurodevelopment, maternal stress, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

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