Preeclampsia is a pregnancy disease characterized by hypertension and proteinuria. Among several disorders, the imbalance of inflammatory cytokines and the alteration of vitamin D metabolism have been reported in preeclampsia. The effects of calcitriol upon inflammatory cytokines has been demonstrated. In healthy pregnant women there is a shift toward a Th2 cytokine profile, which is necessary for an adequate pregnancy outcome. As compared with normal pregnancy, high pro-inflammatory and low anti-inflammatory cytokine levels have been observed in preeclamptic women. Preeclampsia has been associated with low calcitriol levels and vitamin D deficiency is correlated with a higher risk of the development of this disease. It has been demonstrated that placenta is a source as well as the target of calcitriol and cytokines and placental dysfunction has been associated with preeclampsia. Therefore, the present manuscript includes a review about serum calcitriol levels in non-pregnant, pregnant, and preeclamptic women as well as a review on the fetoplacental vitamin D metabolism in healthy and preeclamptic pregnancies. In addition, circulating and fetoplacental inflammatory cytokines in healthy and preeclamptic pregnancies are reviewed. Finally, the effects of calcitriol upon placental pro-inflammatory cytokines are also explored. In conclusion, maternal and placental calcitriol levels are low in preeclampsia which may explain, at least in part, high pro-inflammatory cytokine levels in this disease.
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