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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Oct 14;111(41):E4359-66. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404477111. Epub 2014 Sep 29.

Vitamin D prevents cognitive decline and enhances hippocampal synaptic function in aging rats.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences and.
2
Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40536.
3
Department of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences and nadap@uky.edu.

Abstract

Vitamin D is an important calcium-regulating hormone with diverse functions in numerous tissues, including the brain. Increasing evidence suggests that vitamin D may play a role in maintaining cognitive function and that vitamin D deficiency may accelerate age-related cognitive decline. Using aging rodents, we attempted to model the range of human serum vitamin D levels, from deficient to sufficient, to test whether vitamin D could preserve or improve cognitive function with aging. For 5-6 mo, middle-aged F344 rats were fed diets containing low, medium (typical amount), or high (100, 1,000, or 10,000 international units/kg diet, respectively) vitamin D3, and hippocampal-dependent learning and memory were then tested in the Morris water maze. Rats on high vitamin D achieved the highest blood levels (in the sufficient range) and significantly outperformed low and medium groups on maze reversal, a particularly challenging task that detects more subtle changes in memory. In addition to calcium-related processes, hippocampal gene expression microarrays identified pathways pertaining to synaptic transmission, cell communication, and G protein function as being up-regulated with high vitamin D. Basal synaptic transmission also was enhanced, corroborating observed effects on gene expression and learning and memory. Our studies demonstrate a causal relationship between vitamin D status and cognitive function, and they suggest that vitamin D-mediated changes in hippocampal gene expression may improve the likelihood of successful brain aging.

KEYWORDS:

25-hydroxyvitamin D; Vitamin D status; cholecalciferol

PMID:
25267625
PMCID:
PMC4205629
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1404477111
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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