Zebrafish show long-term behavioral impairments resulting from developmental vitamin D deficiency.

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Vitamin D has been shown in a wide variety of species to play critical roles in neurodevelopment. Vitamin D deficiency disrupts development of the brain and can cause lasting behavioral dysfunction. Zebrafish have become an important model for the study of development in general and neurodevelopment in particular. Zebrafish were used in the current study to characterize the effects of developmental vitamin D deficiency on behavioral function. Adult zebrafish that had been chronically fed a vitamin D deficient or replete diets were bred and the offspring were continued on those diets. The offspring were behaviorally tested as adults. In the novel tank diving test the vitamin D deficient diet significantly lowered the vertical position of fish indicative of more anxiety-like behavior. In the novel tank diving test swimming activity was also significantly decreased by vitamin D deficiency. Startle response was increased by developmental vitamin D deficiency during the early part of the test. No significant effects of vitamin D deficiency were seen with social affiliation and predatory stimulus avoidance tests. These results indicate a phenotype of vitamin D deficiency characterized by more anxiety-like behavior. This result was relatively specific inasmuch as few or no behavioral effects were seen in other behavioral tests.





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Oliveri, Anthony N, Megan Knuth, Lilah Glazer, Jordan Bailey, Seth W Kullman and Edward D Levin (2020). Zebrafish show long-term behavioral impairments resulting from developmental vitamin D deficiency. Physiology & behavior, 224. p. 113016. 10.1016/j.physbeh.2020.113016 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29498.

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Edward Daniel Levin

Professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Levin is Chief of the Neurobehavioral Research Lab in the Psychiatry Department of Duke University Medical Center. His primary academic appointment is as Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. He also has secondary appointments in the Department Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke. His primary research effort is to understand basic neural interactions underlying cognitive function and addiction and to apply this knowledge to better understand cognitive dysfunction and addiction disorders and to develop novel therapeutic treatments.

The three main research components of his laboratory are focused on the themes of the basic neurobiology of cognition and addiction, neurobehavioral toxicology and the development of novel therapeutic treatments for cognitive dysfunction and substance abuse. Currently, our principal research focus concerns nicotine. We have documented the basic effects of nicotine on learning memory and attention as well as nicotine self-administration. We are continuing with more mechanistic studies in rat models using selective lesions, local infusions and neurotransmitter interaction studies. We have found that nicotine improves memory performance not only in normal rats, but also in rats with lesions of hippocampal and basal forebrain connections. We are concentrating on alpha7 and alpha4beta2 nicotinic receptor subtypes in the hippocampus, amygdala , thalamus and frontal cortex and how they interact with dopamine D1 and D2 and glutamate NMDA systems with regard to memory and addiction. I am also conducting studies on human cognitive behavior. We have current studies to assess nicotine effects on attention, memory and mental processing speed in schizophrenia, Alzheimer's Disease and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In the area of neurobehavioral toxicology, I have continuing projects to characterize the adverse effects of prenatal and adolescent nicotine exposure. Our primary project in neurobehavioral toxicology focuses on the cognitive deficits caused by the marine toxins. The basic and applied aims of our research complement each other nicely. The findings concerning neural mechanisms underlying cognitive function help direct the behavioral toxicology and therapeutic development studies, while the applied studies provide important functional information concerning the importance of the basic mechanisms under investigation.

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