Vitamin D modulates cortical transcriptome and behavioral phenotypes in an Mecp2 heterozygous Rett syndrome mouse model

Mayara C. Ribeiro, Jessica L. MacDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Rett syndrome (RTT) is an X-linked neurological disorder caused by mutations in the transcriptional regulator MECP2. Mecp2 loss-of-function leads to the disruption of many cellular pathways, including aberrant activation of the NF-κB pathway. Genetically attenuating the NF-κB pathway in Mecp2-null mice ameliorates hallmark phenotypes of RTT, including reduced dendritic complexity, raising the question of whether NF-κB pathway inhibitors could provide a therapeutic avenue for RTT. Vitamin D is a known inhibitor of NF-κB signaling; further, vitamin D deficiency is prevalent in RTT patients and male Mecp2-null mice. We previously demonstrated that vitamin D rescues the aberrant NF-κB activity and reduced neurite outgrowth of Mecp2-knockdown cortical neurons in vitro, and that dietary vitamin D supplementation rescues decreased dendritic complexity and soma size of neocortical projection neurons in both male hemizygous Mecp2-null and female heterozygous mice in vivo. Here, we have identified over 200 genes whose dysregulated expression in the Mecp2+/− cortex is modulated by dietary vitamin D. Genes normalized with vitamin D supplementation are involved in dendritic complexity, synapses, and neuronal projections, suggesting that the rescue of their expression could underpin the rescue of neuronal morphology. Further, there is a disruption in the homeostasis of the vitamin D synthesis pathway in Mecp2+/− mice, and motor and anxiety-like behavioral phenotypes in Mecp2+/− mice correlate with circulating vitamin D levels. Thus, our data indicate that vitamin D modulates RTT pathology and its supplementation could provide a simple and cost-effective partial therapeutic for RTT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105636
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • NF-kappaB
  • Neocortex
  • Neuronal development
  • Rett syndrome
  • Transcriptome
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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