Vitamin D is a neuroactive secosteroid with several important functions in the nervous system. Many human and animal findings link alterations in the vitamin D system to various neurological and behavioral disorders. Since grooming is an important element of animal behavior, here we studied whether genetic ablation of vitamin D receptors (VDR) in mice may be associated with altered grooming behaviors. Overall, VDR knockout (VDRko) mice presented longer duration and higher frequency of grooming when tested in the actimeter, open field, elevated plus maze, and horizontal rod tests. Increased grooming did not, however, correlate with unaltered general activity level (actimeter test), anxiety-like behaviors (hole board and elevated plus maze tests), and emotional reactivity index (defecation boli). In general, our results confirm the role of vitamin D and VDR in the regulation of behavior, including grooming, and suggest that increased grooming behavioral phenotype may be associated with genetic ablation of VDR in mutant mice. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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