Maternal vitamin D deficiency alters fetal brain development in the BALB/c mouse
Hawes, JE and Tesic, D and Whitehouse, AJ and Zosky, GR and Smith, JT and Wyrwoll, CS, Maternal vitamin D deficiency alters fetal brain development in the BALB/c mouse, Behavioural Brain Research: An International Journal, 286 pp. 192-200. ISSN 0166-4328 (2015) [Refereed Article]
Prenatal exposure to vitamin D is thought to be critical for optimal fetal neurodevelopment, yet vitamin D deficiency is apparent in a growing proportion of pregnant women. The aim of this study was to determine whether a mouse model of vitamin D-deficiency alters fetal neurodevelopment. Female BALB/c mice were placed on either a vitamin D control (2195IU/kg) or deficient (0IU/kg) diet for 5 weeks prior to and during pregnancy. Fetal brains were collected at embryonic day (E) 14.5 or E17.5 for morphological and gene expression analysis. Vitamin D deficiency during pregnancy reduced fetal crown-rump length and head size. Moreover, lateral ventricle volume was reduced in vitamin D-deficient foetuses. Expression of neurotrophin genes brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) and transforming growth factor-β1 (Tgf-β1) was altered, with Bdnf reduced at E14.5 and increased at E17.5 following vitamin D deficiency. Brain expression of forkhead box protein P2 (Foxp2), a gene known to be important in human speech and language, was also altered. Importantly, Foxp2 immunoreactive cells in the developing cortex were reduced in vitamin D-deficient female foetuses. At E17.5, brain tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) gene expression was reduced in females, as was TH protein localization (to identify dopamine neurons) in the substantia nigra of vitamin D-deficient female foetuses. Overall, we show that prenatal vitamin D-deficiency leads to alterations in fetal mouse brain morphology and genes related to neuronal survival, speech and language development, and dopamine synthesis. Vitamin D appears to play an important role in mouse neurodevelopment.