Vitamin D insufficiency has become a global public health problem: 27 % of European adolescents have deficient levels of Vitamin D and 15 % have severe deficient levels. Vitamin D plays a key role in tissues that are involved in the regulation of calcium and phosphate homeostasis such as intestine, kidney and bones, as well as in the skeletal muscle.
Gabriele Stangl and colleagues, Martin-Luther-University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, analyzed the morphology and gene expression profile of the skeletal muscles of newborn rats in response to diet-induced maternal Vitamin D deficiency. In order to do so, 14 female rats were fed either a Vitamin D deficient or Vitamin D adequate diet prior to conception, during pregnancy and lactation.
The team demonstrate that under Vitamin D deficiency the gene expression for important proteins involved in cell differentiation, cell division, cell cycle control, cytoskeleton synthesis, and energy metabolism were altered. Vitamin D deficiency also has an impact on the muscle cell development: Muscle cells are generally smaller and have bigger intercellular spaces, resulting in a altered morphology of skeletal muscles in newborns.
Based on this finding the authors conclude that the maternal Vitamin D status is a vital factor of prenatal muscle development.
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