High vitamin D status before conception, but not during pregnancy, is inversely associated with maternal gestational diabetes mellitus in guinea pigs

J Nutr. 2014 Dec;144(12):1994-2001. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.197814. Epub 2014 Oct 23.


Background: Whether there is a dose-dependent effect of maternal dietary cholecalciferol during pregnancy on maternal glucose tolerance is unknown. In addition, circulating osteocalcin is increased by 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D] and may improve glucose homeostasis.

Objective: This study was designed to test whether dietary cholecalciferol during pregnancy dose-dependently affects maternal glucose tolerance and maternal and neonatal glucose concentrations in relation to plasma osteocalcin and body composition.

Methods: Female guinea pigs (n = 45; 4 mo old) were randomly assigned to 5 doses of cholecalciferol (0, 0.25, 0.5, 1, or 2 IU/g diet) fed from mating to delivery. Plasma vitamin D metabolites, minerals, and osteocalcin, and blood glucose were measured before mating, at midgestation (day 42), and at day 2 postpartum in sows and in 2-d-old pups. At day 50 of pregnancy (early third trimester), a 3-h oral-glucose-tolerance test (OGTT) (2 g/kg) was conducted. Body composition was measured before mating and at day 2 postpartum in sows and in pups.

Results: A positive dose-response to dietary cholecalciferol was observed for change in maternal plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] through pregnancy (P < 0.0001), with 1,25(OH)2D increasing by 198% in the 1-IU/g group by midgestation vs. a reduction of 43.6% in the 0-IU/g group (P = 0.05). Twenty-four (54.5%) sows had gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM) on the basis of nonfed glucose and 39 (88.6%) had GDM on the basis of 2-h OGTT glucose concentrations. There were no group differences in maternal OGTT or changes in glucose, minerals, osteocalcin concentrations, and body composition. Pre-mating 25(OH)D was inversely related to 3-h area under the curve for blood glucose from the OGTT (r = -0.31, P = 0.05). In guinea pig pups, although both 25(OH)D (P < 0.0001) and 1,25(OH)2D (P < 0.0001) followed a dose-response to maternal diet, glucose, osteocalcin, minerals, and body composition were not altered.

Conclusions: Dietary vitamin D intake during pregnancy in guinea pigs does not affect the already high rate of GDM, whereas higher prepregnancy vitamin D status appears to be protective.

Keywords: Vitamin D; dose-response; gestational diabetes; guinea pig; pregnancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Body Composition / drug effects
  • Calcium / blood
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Cholecalciferol / blood*
  • Diabetes, Gestational / blood*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Glucose Tolerance Test
  • Guinea Pigs
  • Maternal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • Osteocalcin / blood
  • Pregnancy
  • Reproduction / drug effects


  • Blood Glucose
  • Osteocalcin
  • Cholecalciferol
  • Calcium