Vitamin D deficiency is a recognized risk factor for sarcopenia development, but mechanisms underlying this outcome are unclear. Here, we show that low vitamin D status worsens immobilization-induced muscle atrophy in mice. Mice globally lacking vitamin D receptor (VDR) exhibited more severe muscle atrophy following limb immobilization than controls. Moreover, immobilization-induced muscle atrophy was worse in neural crest-specific than in skeletal muscle-specific VDR-deficient mice. Tnfα expression was significantly higher in immobilized muscle of VDR-deficient relative to control mice, and was significantly elevated in neural crest-specific but not muscle-specific VDR-deficient mice. Furthermore, muscle atrophy induced by limb immobilization in low vitamin D mice was significantly inhibited in Tnfα-deficient mice. We conclude that vitamin D antagonizes immobilization-induced muscle atrophy via VDR expressed in neural crest-derived cells.
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