Toxicology letters

Folic acid supplementation during pregnancy protects against lipopolysaccharide-induced neural tube defects in mice.

PMID 24177262


Folic acid is a water-soluble B-complex vitamin. Increasing evidence demonstrates that physiological supply of folic acid during pregnancy prevents folic acid deficiency-related neural tube defects (NTDs). Previous studies showed that maternal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) exposure caused NTDs in rodents. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of high-dose folic acid supplementation during pregnancy on LPS-induced NTDs. Pregnant mice were intraperitoneally injected with LPS (20 μg/kg/d) from gestational day (GD) 8 to GD12. As expected, a five-day LPS injection resulted in 19.96% of fetuses with NTDs. Interestingly, supplementation with folic acid (3mg/kg/d) during pregnancy significantly alleviated LPS-induced NTDs. Additionally, folic acid significantly attenuated LPS-induced fetal growth restriction and skeletal malformations. Additional experiment showed that folic acid attenuated LPS-induced glutathione (GSH) depletion in maternal liver and placentas. Moreover, folic acid significantly attenuated LPS-induced expression of placental MyD88. Additionally, folic acid inhibited LPS-induced c-Jun NH2-terminal kinase (JNK) phosphorylation and nuclear factor kappa B (NF-κB) activation in placentas. Correspondingly, folic acid significantly attenuated LPS-induced tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-6 in placentas, maternal serum and amniotic fluid. In conclusion, supplementation with high-dose folic acid during pregnancy protects against LPS-induced NTDs through its anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative effects.