Behavioural effects of adult Vitamin D deficiency in BALB/c mice are not associated with proliferation or survival of neurons in the adult hippocampus

Natalie J. Groves, Danakai Bradford, Robert K.P. Sullivan, Kyna Anne Conn, Rasha Fahad Aljelaify, John J. McGrath, Thomas H.J. Burne

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Epidemiological studies have shown that up to one third of adults have insufficient levels of vitamin D and there is an association between low vitamin D concentrations and adverse brain outcomes, such as depression. Vitamin D has been shown to be involved in processes associated with neurogenesis during development. Therefore, the aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that adult vitamin D (AVD) deficiency in BALB/c mice was associated with (a) adult hippocampal neurogenesis at baseline, b) following 6 weeks of voluntary wheel running and (c) a depressive-like phenotype on the forced swim test (FST), which may be linked to alterations in hippocampal neurogenesis. We assessed proliferation and survival of adult born hippocampal neurons by counting the number of cells positive for Ki67 and doublecortin (DCX), and incorporation of 5-Bromo-2'-Deoxyuridine (BrdU) within newly born mature neurons using immunohistochemistry. There were no significant effects of diet on number of Ki67+, DCX+ or BrdU+ cells in the dentate gyrus. All mice showed significantly increased number of Ki67+ cells and BrdU incorporation, and decreased immobility time in the FST, after voluntary wheel running. A significant correlation was found in control mice between immobility time in the FST and level of hippocampal neurogenesis, however, no such correlation was found for AVD-deficient mice. We conclude that AVD deficiency was not associated with impaired proliferation or survival of adult born neurons in BALB/c mice and that the impact on rodent behaviour may not be due to altered neurogenesis per se, but to altered function of new hippocampal neurons or processes independent of adult neurogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0152328
Number of pages14
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016
Externally publishedYes

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