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BACKGROUND: Early life vitamin D exposure is linked to later skeletal health with maternal vitamin D status in pregnancy associated with neonatal bone mass. The MAVIDOS study has demonstrated that vitamin D supplementation leads to reduced RXRA DNA methylation. Mice exposed to early life vitamin D deficiency have reduced bone mass and bone accrual in response to mechanical loading. Using the tibiae of these mice, we have examined the effect of diet and mechanical loading on the DNA methylation of promoters of genetic loci important for bone growth and development and their association with bone strength. RESULTS: Mechanical loading of mouse tibiae leads to a reduction of RXRA DNA methylation. Early life vitamin D deficiency is associated with altered methylation of osterix and Runx2 in these bones. Tibia strength was also demonstrated to be associated with a change in DNA methylation status in CpGs of the vitamin D receptor (VDR), ostrix, and RXRA genes. CONCLUSIONS: We have shown for the first time that mechanical loading of bone and early life vitamin D deficiency leads to changes in the epigenome of this tissue in key genes in the vitamin D and osteoblast differentiation pathway.

Original publication




Journal article


Genes nutr

Publication Date





Bone, Epigenetics, Mechanical loading, Methylation, Osterix, RXRA, Vitamin D