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 email@example.com.
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!
Fungal intruder ante portas!
19.08.2016 | Leibniz-Institut für Pflanzengenetik und Kulturpflanzenforschung
Producing wholesome seed product on site
16.08.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Organische Elektronik, Elektronenstrahl- und Plasmatechnik FEP
Waveguides are widely used for filtering, confining, guiding, coupling or splitting beams of visible light. However, creating waveguides that could do the same for X-rays has posed tremendous challenges in fabrication, so they are still only in an early stage of development.
In the latest issue of Acta Crystallographica Section A: Foundations and Advances , Sarah Hoffmann-Urlaub and Tim Salditt report the fabrication and testing of...
Electrochemists at TU Graz have managed to use monocrystalline semiconductor silicon as an active storage electrode in lithium batteries. This enables an integrated power supply to be made for microchips with a rechargeable battery.
Small electrical gadgets, such as mobile phones, tablets or notebooks, are indispensable accompaniments of everyday life. Integrated circuits in the interiors...
Recent findings indicating the possible discovery of a previously unknown subatomic particle may be evidence of a fifth fundamental force of nature, according...
A nanocrystalline material that rapidly makes white light out of blue light has been developed by KAUST researchers.
Malignant cancer cells not only proliferate faster than most body cells. They are also more dependent on the most important cellular garbage disposal unit, the proteasome, which degrades defective proteins. Therapies for some types of cancer exploit this dependence: Patients are treated with inhibitors, which block the proteasome. The ensuing pile-up of junk overwhelms the cancer cell, ultimately killing it. Scientists have now succeeded in determining the human proteasome’s 3D structure in unprecedented detail and have deciphered the mechanism by which inhibitors block the proteasome. Their results will pave the way to develop more effective proteasome inhibitors for cancer therapy.
In order to understand how cellular machines such as the proteasome work, it is essential to determine their three-dimensional structure in detail. With its...
12.08.2016 | Event News
02.08.2016 | Event News
29.07.2016 | Event News
23.08.2016 | Information Technology
23.08.2016 | Life Sciences
23.08.2016 | Earth Sciences