The biologically active metabolite of vitamin D, 1α, 25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1α, 25(OH)2D), is synthesised by successive hydroxylation of vitamin D in the liver and kidney1. The latter organ is the only known site of 1α-hydroxylation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OH-D)2 and is also a major site of production of 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (24,25(OH)2D), a metabolite involved in bone ossification3. However, 24-hydroxylation of 25-OH-D may also occur in rat intestinal homogenates and in cartilage cells4,5. Accumulating data show that, during pregnancy, 1α, 25(OH)2D increases in the maternal circulation6 but is absent or present only in small amounts in the fetus7,8. In comparison, 24,25(OH)2D accumulates in fetal tissues, particularly in the skeleton8. Little is known, however, about the independent metabolism of vitamin D in the fetoplacental unit. It has been reported9 that the nephrectomised pregnant rat can synthesise 1α, 25(OH)2D3 and 24,25(OH)2D3 and that the fetoplacental unit is the most likely site of production of such metabolites. Those data suggested that there may be independent vitamin D metabolism in the fetoplacental unit. We now report in vitro synthesis of 24,25(OH)2D3 by human placenta and of 1α,25(OH)2D3 and 24,25(OH)2D3 by human decidua. The human decidua is a development of the endometrium that is unique to pregnancy, originating from both epithelial and stromal cells and intimately attached to fetal structures, that is, the placenta and chorion.
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Weisman, Y., Harell, A., Edelstein, S. et al. 1α, 25-Dihydroxyvitamin D3, and 24,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in vitro synthesis by human decidua and placenta. Nature 281, 317–319 (1979). https://doi.org/10.1038/281317a0
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