Vestibular dysfunction in vitamin D receptor mutant mice

J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2009 Apr;114(3-5):161-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsbmb.2009.01.020. Epub 2009 Feb 6.


The vitamin D endocrine system is essential for calcium and bone homeostasis. Vitamin D deficits are associated with muscle weakness and osteoporosis, whereas vitamin D supplementation may improve muscle function, body sway and frequency of falls, growth and mineral homeostasis of bones. The loss of muscle strength and mass, as well as deficits in bone formation, lead to poor balance. Poor balance is one of the main causes of falls, and may lead to dangerous injuries. Here we examine balance functions in vitamin D receptor deficient (VDR-/-) mice, an animal model of vitamin D-dependent rickets type II, and in 1alpha-hydroxylase deficient (1alpha-OHase-/-) mice, an animal model of pseudovitamin D-deficiency rickets. Recently developed methods (tilting box, rotating tube test), swim test, and modified accelerating rotarod protocol were used to examine whether the absence of functional VDR, or the lack of a key vitamin D-activating enzyme, could lead to mouse vestibular dysfunctions. Overall, VDR-/- mice, but not 1alpha-OHase-/- mice, showed shorter latency to fall from the rotarod, smaller fall angle in the tilting box test, and aberrant poor swimming. These data suggest that VDR deficiency in mice is associated with decreased balance function, and may be relevant to poorer balance/posture control in humans with low levels of vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Postural Balance
  • Posture
  • Receptors, Calcitriol / deficiency*
  • Rickets
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • Vestibular Diseases / etiology*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications


  • Receptors, Calcitriol
  • Steroid Hydroxylases
  • vitamin D 1-alpha hydroxylase