Food and Behaviour Research

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Vitamin D deficiency during various stages of pregnancy in the rat; its impact on development and behaviour in adult offspring.

O'Loan J, Eyles DW, Kesby J, Ko P, McGrath JJ, Burne TH. (2007) Psychoneuroendocrinology.  32(3) 227-34. Epub 2007 Feb 5. 

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Developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency alters brain development and behaviour in the rat.

The aim of this study was to vary levels of vitamin D deficiency during gestation and examine the effects on developmental milestones and behaviour in adult offspring.

By manipulating the withdrawal and reintroduction of vitamin D in the diet of female Sprague-Dawley rats, their offspring were subjected to four different prenatal vitamin D conditions: (a) control (normal vitamin D throughout gestation); (b) early-DVD deficiency; (c) late-DVD deficiency; and (d) full-DVD deficiency.

We show that the standard measure for vitamin D status, 25(OH)D(3), can be significantly manipulated within 7 days by dietary intervention. We also show that levels of the active form of this vitamin, 1,25(OH)(2)D(3), replete within the same time frame as 25(OH)D(3) but are slower to deplete. Developmental milestones remained normal across all four dietary groups.

Concerning the adult behavioural phenotype, both full- and late-DVD deficiency were associated with MK-801-induced hyperlocomotion. Overall, these data suggest that vitamin D deficiency restricted to late gestation only is sufficient to disrupt adult brain functioning in the rat.

These findings suggest there may be a therapeutic window for maternal dietary intervention in the DVD model of psychosis.