Harms LR, Eyles DW, McGrath JJ, Mackay-Sim A, Burne TH. (2008) Behav Brain Res. 187(2) 343-50. Epub 2007 Oct 5.
Developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency has been proposed as an environmental risk factor for a number of brain disorders. The absence of this vitamin during foetal development in the rat is known to alter behaviour in the adult, and many of these alterations are informative with respect to the clinical features of schizophrenia.
Here we investigated whether DVD deficiency had a similar effect on 129/SvJ and C57BL/6J mice. Female mice were fed a diet deficient in vitamin D for 6 weeks prior to conception until birth, after which dams and their offspring were fed a normal diet (i.e. containing vitamin D). Control mice were fed a normal diet throughout the experiment. The adult offspring underwent a comprehensive behavioural test battery at 10 weeks of age.
We found that DVD-deficient mice of both strains exhibited significantly higher levels of exploration, as measured by the frequency of head dipping on the hole board test. In addition, DVD-deficient 129/SvJ mice, but not C57BL/6J mice, displayed spontaneous hyperlocomotion. There was no effect of maternal diet on parameters assessed by the SHIRPA primary screen, or on tests of sensorimotor gating, social behaviour, anxiety or depression.
Some of these findings resemble the rat phenotype (hyperlocomotion) but there are also novel effects of DVD deficiency on mouse behaviour (increased exploration).
This study confirms that the developmental absence of this vitamin affects brain function in another species (mouse), and lends further weight to the hypothesis that DVD deficiency in humans may contribute to adverse neuropsychiatric outcomes.