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J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007 May;104(3-5):274-80. Epub 2007 Mar 24.

Neophobia, sensory and cognitive functions, and hedonic responses in vitamin D receptor mutant mice.

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  • 1Department of Anatomy, Medical School, University of Tampere, Tampere 33014, Finland.


Vitamin D is a seco-steroid hormone with multiple actions in the brain, mediated through the nuclear vitamin D receptor (VDR). We have recently shown that mutant mice lacking functional VDR demonstrate altered emotional behavior and specific motor deficits. Here we further examine phenotype of these mice, testing their novelty responses, as well as cognitive and sensory (olfactory and gustatory) functions in the novel food, two-trial Y-maze and tastant consumption tests. In addition, we study depression-like behavior in these mice, using anhedonia-based sucrose preference test. Overall, VDR mutant mice showed neophobic response in several different tests, but displayed unimpaired olfactory and gustatory functions, spatial memory and baseline hedonic responses. Collectively, these data confirm that mutation of VDR in mice leads to altering emotional/anxiety states, but does not play a major role in depression, as well as in the regulation of some sensory and cognitive processes. These results support the role of the vitamin D/VDR neuroendocrine system in the regulation of behavior, and may have clinical relevance, enabling a better focus on psychiatric and behavioral disorders associated with dysfunctions in this neuroendocrine system.

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