Developmental vitamin D deficiency alters learning in C57Bl/6J mice


  • Abreu Diana Andrea
  • Nivet Emmanuel
  • Baril Nathalie
  • Khrestchatisky Michel
  • Roman François
  • Féron François


  • Animals
  • Male
  • Brain
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Inbred C57BL
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diet
  • Disease Models
  • Animal
  • Learning Disorders
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Maze Learning
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Radioimmunoassay
  • Vitamin D Deficiency


Epidemiological studies have highlighted a season of birth effect in multiple sclerosis and schizophrenia. As a result, low prenatal vitamin D has been proposed as a candidate risk factor for these brain diseases, with cognitive impairments. In order to further investigate the long-term consequences of a transient gestational hypovitaminosis D, we used a mouse developmental vitamin D (DVD) deficiency model. Female C57Bl/6J mice were fed a vitamin D-free diet for 6 weeks prior to conception and during gestation. At birth, dams and their offspring were fed a normal vitamin D-containing diet. The adult offspring underwent a learning test based on olfactory cues, at 30 weeks and 60 weeks of age. In addition, using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), volumes of cerebrum, hippocampus and lateral ventricles were measured at 30 weeks and 70 weeks of age. We found that DVD-deficient mice, when compared to control animals at Week 30, displayed impaired learning and smaller lateral ventricles. At Weeks 60-70, both groups deteriorated when compared to young mice and no significant difference was observed between groups. This study confirms that transient prenatal vitamin D deficiency alters brain development and functioning and induces cognitive impairments in the young adult offspring.

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