Low vitamin D levels have been associated with allergic diseases. Vitamin D has potent immunomodulatory properties, but the mechanisms remain unclear. We have investigated the effect of infant oral vitamin D supplementation on circulating immune cell phenotypes.
A double-blinded randomised controlled trial was conducted to investigate the effect of oral vitamin D supplementation (400 IU/day) on eczema and immune development. A subset of 78 infants were included in this analysis. Phenotypic analysis of immune cell subsets were performed using flow cytometry.
Vitamin D supplementation resulted in median 25(OH)D levels of 80.5 vs 59.5 nmol/L in the placebo group at 3 months of age (p=0.002) and 87.5 vs 77 nmol/L at 6 months of age (p=0.08). We observed significant changes in immune cell composition from birth (cord blood) to 6 months of age. Vitamin D supplementation did not impact these changes, nor did immune cell composition correlate with plasma 25(OH)D levels. Through exploratory analysis, we identified possible associations with eczema development and increased abundance of naïve CD4 T cells at birth, as well as associations with basophils, iNKT and central memory CD4 T cells and altered expression patterns of IgE receptor (FcεR1) on monocytes and dendritic cells with eczema at 6 months.
Vitamin D supplementation in infants who were vitamin D sufficient at birth did not affect developmental changes in immune cells during the first 6 months of life. However, immune cell profiles at birth and at 6 months of age were associated with early life eczema.
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