Vitamin D in Synaptic Plasticity, Cognitive Function, and Neuropsychiatric Illness

Trends Neurosci. 2019 Apr;42(4):293-306. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2019.01.003. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Over a billion people worldwide are affected by vitamin D deficiency. Although vitamin D deficiency is associated with impaired cognition, the mechanisms mediating this link are poorly understood. The extracellular matrix (ECM) has now emerged as an important participant of synaptic plasticity and a new hypothesis is that vitamin D may interact with aggregates of the ECM, perineuronal nets (PNNs), to regulate brain plasticity. Dysregulation of PNNs caused by vitamin D deficiency may contribute to the presentation of cognitive deficits. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underpinning the role of vitamin D in brain plasticity and cognition could help identify ways to treat cognitive symptoms in schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric conditions.

Keywords: cognition; neuropsychiatric illness; perineuronal nets; synaptic plasticity; vitamin D deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / metabolism*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders / metabolism*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Vitamin D / metabolism*
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / psychology


  • Vitamin D