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Behavior changes due to low vitamin D – in rodents – Nov 2015

The impact of vitamin D deficiency on behavior and brain function in rodents

Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, Available online 26 November 2015, doi:10.1016/j.cobeha.2015.11.012
K Overeem1, DW Eyles1, 2, JJ McGrath1, 2, THJ Burne1, 2,

•We review studies using rodent models of vitamin D deficiency.
•Prenatal vitamin D deficiency alters brain development.
•Adult vitamin D deficiency alters behaviour.

Vitamin D deficiency has been proposed as an environmental risk factor for several neurological disorders. To investigate the biological plausibility of this risk factor, vitamin D (DVD) deficiency rodent models have been used to examine the impact of DVD deficiency on neurobiology and behaviour. The majority of these studies have taken a developmental stance and examined the impact of vitamin D deficiency during gestation on the adult behaviour of the offspring.
In the rat, the most constant behavioural phenotypes include

  • hyperlocomotion in response to novelty,
  • psychostimulant sensitively,
  • impulsivity, and
  • augmented motivation.

However, in the mouse

  • increased exploratory behaviour and
  • motivational alterations are observed.

Researchers have also examined the affect of adult vitamin D deficiency in rodents.
The resultant behavioural alterations include

  • increased exploratory activity and
  • impulsivity in the rat,


  • increased hyperlocomotion and
  • sensory sensitivity is observed in the mouse.

Thus, both the developing and adult brain are sensitive to dietary vitamin D status. However, the behavioural alterations are subtle and influenced by factors such as species, strain, sex, and age. This illustrates the amenability and complexity of neurobiological systems that are influenced by vitamin D status. Nonetheless, with increasing evidence for epidemiological associations between neuropathological disorders and vitamin D, carefully designed rodent models are well placed as a tool to explore the neurobiological and behavioural domains that may be sensitive to vitamin D.

Crown copyright © 2015 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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See also VitaminDWiki

  1. Both have strong inheritance features – Vitamin D about 60%
  2. Both have gotten substantially worse in last 30 years
  3. Vitamin D is known to be involved in brain development
  4. All autistic children are VitD deficient, but not all children who are deficient are autistic: genes are involved
  5. When giving vitamin D to cure children of rickets “mental dullness” decreases as well
  6. Children with genes which give them too much (Williams Syndrome) have to reverse of autism – too sociable
  7. Mothers having lots of fish (and thus more vitamin D) give birth to kids with less autistic symptoms
  8. Both associated with weak bones
  9. Both worse around the age of weaning
  10. Autism is more common in rich families – more likely to apply sun screen and stay indoors
  11. Autism increases with drugs which lower levels of vitamin D
  12. Seizures are common with Autism - Vitamin D has been shown to reduce seizures
  13. Fewer autistic symptoms (such as sleep problems) during summer: when child gets more vitamin D from the sun
  14. Both worse with latitude
  15. Both vary with Ultraviolet light
  16. Both vary with time of year (more birth of autistics in March in Northern hemisphere)
  17. 2X more urban autism – less UVB in urban environments
  18. Both worse with pollution
  19. Both worse with increased clouds and rain
  20. Both worse with closely spaced pregnancies
  21. Autistics have abnormal immune response – similar to that of vitamin D deficiency
  22. Low levels of vitamin D in mother animals reduces brain function in offspring
  23. Vitamin deficient rat pups have similar brain abnormalities to that of human autistic children
  24. Autistic children get less vitamin D in their blood for the same amount of sun exposure
  25. The 4 males/1 female ratio - Note estrogen increases vitamin D in the brain (testosterone does not)
  26. Both worse in African Americans (A-A 2-3 increased autism rate)
  27. Both worse in Dark-skinned immigrants in Europe
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