Prenatal vitamin D deficiency induces an early and more severe experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in the second generation

Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(9):10911-10919. doi: 10.3390/ijms130910911. Epub 2012 Aug 30.


In a previous study, we demonstrated that mouse adult F(1) offspring, exposed to a vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy, developed a less severe and delayed Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis (EAE), when compared with control offspring. We then wondered whether a similar response was observed in the subsequent generation. To answer this question, we assessed F(2) females whose F(1) parents (males or females) were vitamin D-deprived when developing in the uterus of F(0) females. Unexpectedly, we observed that the vitamin D deficiency affecting the F(0) pregnant mice induced a precocious and more severe EAE in the F(2) generation. This paradoxical finding led us to assess its implications for the epidemiology of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) in humans. Using the REFGENSEP database for MS trios (the patient and his/her parents), we collected the parents' dates of birth and assessed a potential season of birth effect that could potentially be indicative of the vitamin D status of the pregnant grandmothers. A trend for a reduced number of births in the Fall for the parents of MS patients was observed but statistical significance was not reached. Further well powered studies are warranted to validate the latter finding.

Keywords: deficiency; multiple sclerosis; season of birth; transgenerational; vitamin D experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / diagnosis
  • Encephalomyelitis, Autoimmune, Experimental / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Multiple Sclerosis / diagnosis
  • Multiple Sclerosis / etiology*
  • Parturition
  • Pedigree
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / diagnosis*
  • Seasons
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / diagnosis*