Role of pregnancy and obesity on vitamin D status, transport, and metabolism in baboons

Eugenia Mata-Greenwood, Hillary F. Huber, Cun Li, Peter W. Nathanielsz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Human studies show that obesity is associated with vitamin D insufficiency, which contributes to obesity-related disorders. Our aim was to elucidate the regulation of vitamin D during pregnancy and obesity in a nonhuman primate species. We studied lean and obese nonpregnant and pregnant baboons. Plasma 25-hydroxy vitamin D (25-OH-D) and 1α,25-(OH) 2 -D metabolites were analyzed using ELISA. Vitamin D-related gene expression was studied in maternal kidney, liver, subcutaneous fat, and placental tissue using real-time PCR and immunoblotting. Pregnancy was associated with an increase in plasma bioactive vitamin D levels compared with nonpregnant baboons in both lean and obese groups. Pregnant baboons had lower renal 24-hydroxylase CYP24A1 protein and chromatin-bound vitamin D receptor (VDR) than nonpregnant baboons. In contrast, pregnancy upregulated the expression of CYP24A1 and VDR in subcutaneous adipose tissue. Obesity decreased vitamin D status in pregnant baboons (162 ± 17 vs. 235 ± 28 nM for 25-OH-D, 671 ± 12 vs. 710 ± 10 pM for 1α,25-(OH) 2 -D; obese vs. lean pregnant baboons, P < 0.05). Lower vitamin D status correlated with decreased maternal renal expression of the vitamin D transporter cubulin and the 1α-hydroxylase CYP27B1. Maternal obesity also induced placental downregulation of the transporter megalin (LRP2), CYP27B1, the 25-hydroxylase CYP2J2, and VDR. We conclude that baboons represent a novel species to evaluate vitamin D regulation. Both pregnancy and obesity altered vitamin D status. Obesity-induced downregulation of vitamin D transport and bioactivation genes are novel mechanisms of obesity-induced vitamin D regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E63-E72
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019


  • Adipose tissue
  • Obesity
  • Placenta
  • Pregnancy
  • Renal
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of pregnancy and obesity on vitamin D status, transport, and metabolism in baboons'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this