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Vitamin D Receptor Ablation and Vitamin D Deficiency Result in Reduced Grip Strength, Altered Muscle Fibers, and Increased Myostatin in Mice


Vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle weakness, pain, and atrophy. Serum vitamin D predicts muscle strength and age-related muscle changes. However, precise mechanisms by which vitamin D affects skeletal muscle are unclear. To address this question, this study characterizes the muscle phenotype and gene expression of mice with deletion of vitamin D receptor (VDRKO) or diet-induced vitamin D deficiency. VDRKO and vitamin D-deficient mice had significantly weaker grip strength than their controls. Weakness progressed with age and duration of vitamin D deficiency, respectively. Histological assessment showed that VDRKO mice had muscle fibers that were significantly smaller in size and displayed hyper-nuclearity. Real-time PCR also indicated muscle developmental changes in VDRKO mice with dysregulation of myogenic regulatory factors (MRFs) and increased myostatin in quadriceps muscle (>2-fold). Vitamin D-deficient mice also showed increases in myostatin and the atrophy marker E3-ubiqutin ligase MuRF1. As a potential explanation for grip strength weakness, both groups of mice had down-regulation of genes encoding calcium-handling and sarco-endoplasmic reticulum calcium transport ATPase (Serca) channels. This is the first report of reduced strength, morphological, and gene expression changes in VDRKO and vitamin D-deficient mice where confounding by calcium, magnesium, and phosphate have been excluded by direct testing. Although suggested in earlier in vitro work, this study is the first to report an in vivo association between vitamin D, myostatin, and the regulation of muscle mass. These findings support a direct role for vitamin D in muscle function and corroborate earlier work on the presence of VDR in this tissue.

Type Journal
ISBN 1432-0827 (Electronic) 0171-967X (Linking)
Authors Girgis, C. M. ; Cha, K. M. ; Houweling, P. J. ; Rao, R. ; Mokbel, N. ; Lin, M. ; Clifton-Bligh, R. J. ; Gunton, J. E.;
Responsible Garvan Author (missing name)
Published Date 2015-01-01
Published Volume 97
Published Issue 6
Published Pages 602-10
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version