Vitamin D has been identified as a key factor in dopaminergic neurogenesis and differentiation. Consequently, developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency has been linked to disorders of abnormal dopamine signalling with a neurodevelopmental basis such as schizophrenia. Here we provide further evidence of vitamin D's role as a mediator of dopaminergic development by showing that it increases neurite outgrowth, neurite branching, presynaptic protein re-distribution, dopamine production and functional release in various in vitro models of developing dopaminergic cells including SH-SY5Y cells, primary mesencephalic cultures and mesencephalic/striatal explant co-cultures. This study continues to establish vitamin D as an important differentiation agent for developing dopamine neurons, and now for the first time shows chronic exposure to the active vitamin D hormone increases the capacity of developing neurons to release dopamine. This study also has implications for understanding mechanisms behind the link between DVD deficiency and schizophrenia.
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