Low vitamin D status is associated with low cord blood levels of the immunosuppressive cytokine interleukin-10


Armin Zittermann PhD, Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, Heart Center North Rhine-Westphalia, Georgstr. 11, 32545 Bad Oeynhausen, Germany
Tel.: +49 5731 971912
Fax: +49 5731 972020
E-mail: azittermann@hdz–nrw.de


The cytokine interleukin-10 (IL-10) plays a pivotal regulatory role in tolerizing exogenous antigens. Experimental data indicate that low cellular availability of the vitamin D hormone 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D] results in a down-regulation of IL-10 concentrations. The tissue production of an adequate amount of 1,25(OH)2D depends on a high circulating 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) level. The present study was thus aimed at evaluating the associations between season of birth, vitamin D status, and the allergy risk markers IL-10 and total immunoglobulin (IgE) in newborns. Cord blood was obtained from 49 infants born during the summer half year (mid-April to mid-October, geographic latitude 51°N) and from 47 infants born during the winter half year (mid-October to mid-April, geographic latitude of 51°N). Serum levels of 25-OHD were 99% higher, and IL-10 levels were 43% higher in the summer half year compared with the winter half year (p < 0.001 and p = 0.018). Moreover, the ratio of IL-10 to total IgE was 124% higher in the summer half year compared with the winter half year (p = 0.039). Serum levels of 25-OHD were correlated with IL-10 levels (r = +0.22; p < 0.05). Mothers’ age, gestational ages, birth weights and serum 1,25(OH)2D levels did not differ between study groups. We conclude that the low vitamin D status of infants born in winter may at least in part adversely affect biomarkers of allergy risk.