Influence of vitamin D on key bacterial taxa in infant microbiota in the KOALA Birth Cohort Study

Chris E. Talsness, John Penders, Eugene H. J. M. Jansen, Jan Damoiseaux, Carel Thijsl, Monique Mommers*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Vitamin D has immunomodulatory properties giving it the potential to affect microbial colonization of the intestinal tract. We investigated whether maternal vitamin D supplemention, maternal plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D concentration, or direct supplementation of the infant influences key bacterial taxa within microbiota of one month old infants. Infant and maternal vitamin D supplement use was ascertained via questionnaires. Maternal plasma 25-hydroxyvitamin D was determined at approximately the 36th week of pregnancy. In 913 one month old infants in the prospective KOALA Birth Cohort Study, fecal Bifidobacterium spp., Escherichia coli, Clostridium difficile, Bacteroides fragilis group, Lactobacillus spp. and total bacteria were quantified with real-time polymerase chain reaction assays targeting 16S rRNA gene sequences. The association between vitamin D exposure and prevalence or abundance of a specific bacterial group or species was analyzed using logistic or linear regression, respectively. There was a statistically significant negative linear trend between counts of Bifidobacterium spp. and levels of maternal vitamin D supplementation and maternal 25-hydroxyvitamin D quintiles, respectively. In addition, a positive linear trend between quintile groups and B. fragilis group counts was observed. Lower counts of C. difficile were associated with vitamin D supplementation of breast fed infants whose mothers were more likely to adhere to an alternative lifestyle in terms of, e.g., dietary habits. These data suggest that vitamin D influences the abundance of several key bacterial taxa within the infant microbiota. Given that intestinal microbiotic homeostasis may be an important factor in the prevention of immune mediated diseases and that vitamin D status is a modifiable factor, further investigation of the impact of postnatal vitamin D supplementation should be conducted in older infants.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0188011
Number of pages15
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 9 Nov 2017



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