Rabbits that remain indoors may suffer from a lack of vitamin D, researchers report in a new study. In rabbits kept as pets or used in laboratory studies, the deficiency could lead to dental problems, undermine their cardiovascular health, weaken their immune systems and skew scientific findings.
The study found that regular exposure to artificial ultraviolet B light for two weeks doubled rabbits' serum vitamin D levels – an increase not seen in animals raised in artificial light lacking UVB radiation.
Regular exposure to artificial ultraviolet B light for two weeks doubled rabbits' serum vitamin D levels, the researchers found.
Credit: Megan Watson
Future studies will seek to determine optimal levels of UVB exposure and vitamin D levels in rabbits, guinea pigs, chinchillas and other animals.
A report of the study appears in the American Journal of Veterinary Research.
"We know that vitamin D is important to vertebrates in that it helps with calcium absorption, but it also has been shown to benefit cardiovascular health and immune function," said Mark Mitchell, a University of Illinois veterinary clinical medicine professor, who led the research. "We know of several types of diseases that can develop with vitamin D deficiency. Some of the chronic problems we see are tooth-related."
Other researchers have proposed that low vitamin D plays a role in dental disease in pet rabbits, Mitchell said.
"We are doing tooth trims and managing dental disease in rabbits, chinchillas and guinea pigs on a regular basis," Mitchell said. "Weekly, we see those types of cases in our zoo medicine clinical service. It's something that also is seen across the country and internationally. It's a common problem."
Most laboratory animals and many pet rabbits are not allowed outdoors because of the risks of exposure to predators, parasites and disease, Mitchell said. Windows block most UVB radiation. If the animals don't get sufficient vitamin D from their diet and are never exposed to ultraviolet light, they may become deficient, he said.
"As a clinician, I want to better manage these animals, give them a longer, higher quality of life," Mitchell said.
Vitamin D deficiency also could undermine the validity of studies using rabbits in research to improve animal and human health, he said.
"In human medicine, they're starting to measure vitamin D levels as part of our routine medical exams," he said. "But if we're not doing this with animals that we're using in research, we might be missing a step."
Editor's notes: To reach Mark Mitchell, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The paper, "Effects of Ultraviolet Radiation Produced From Artificial Lights on Serum 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Concentration in Captive Domestic Rabbits (Oryctolagus cuniculi)," is available online and from the U. of I. News Bureau.
Diana Yates | EurekAlert!
Crop advances grow with protection
28.04.2016 | American Society of Agronomy
Can urban gardeners benefit ecosystems while keeping food traditions alive?
06.04.2016 | University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute Stuttgart have developed self-propelled tiny ‘microbots’ that can remove lead or organic pollution from contaminated water.
Working with colleagues in Barcelona and Singapore, Samuel Sánchez’s group used graphene oxide to make their microscale motors, which are able to adsorb lead...
Neutron scattering and computational modeling have revealed unique and unexpected behavior of water molecules under extreme confinement that is unmatched by any known gas, liquid or solid states.
In a paper published in Physical Review Letters, researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory describe a new tunneling state of...
Honeycomb structures as the basic building block for industrial applications presented using holo pyramid
Researchers of the Alfred Wegener Institute (AWI) will introduce their latest developments in the field of bionic lightweight design at Hannover Messe from 25...
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS). This work is about avoiding costly and unstable fullerenes.
Polymer solar cells can be even cheaper and more reliable thanks to a breakthrough by scientists at Linköping University and the Chinese Academy of Sciences...
As one of the leading R&D partners in the development of surface technologies and organic electronics, the Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP will be exhibiting its recent achievements in vacuum coating of ultra-thin glass at SVC TechCon 2016 (Booth 846), taking place in Indianapolis / USA from May 9 – 13.
Fraunhofer FEP is an experienced partner for technological developments, known for testing the limits of new materials and for optimization of those materials...
27.04.2016 | Event News
15.04.2016 | Event News
12.04.2016 | Event News
29.04.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
29.04.2016 | Health and Medicine
29.04.2016 | Life Sciences