To gain insights into 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 receptor (VDR) function during fetal bone development, we examined fetal rat tissues from gestational days 13-21 for the presence and distribution of VDR using immunohistochemistry. Prior to ossification, VDR epitopes were observed in the mesenchyme condensing to form skeletal tissues, on day 13 in the developing vertebral column and limbs, and on day 17 of gestation in developing calvaria. Immunostaining for VDR was seen in proliferating and hypertrophic chondrocytes and in osteoblasts of limb buds and the vertebral column by day 17 of gestation. In calvaria, VDR epitopes were observed in osteoblasts by gestational day 19. VDR immunostaining was also evident in the skin of fetal limbs at all gestational ages examined. We show for the first time that the VDR appears very early in the developing fetal rat skeleton, suggesting that the VDR, in concert with its ligand, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3, may play a role in the differentiation of mesenchymal precursors into bone tissue.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Orthopedics and Sports Medicine