Vitamin D deficiency promotes accumulation of bioactive lipids and increased endocannabinoid tone in zebrafish

Vitamin D is well known for its traditional role in bone mineral homeostasis; however, recent evidence suggests that vitamin D also plays a significant role in metabolic control. This study served to investigate putative linkages between vitamin D deficiency (VDD) and metabolic disruption of bioactive lipids by MS imaging. Our approach employed infrared-matrix-assisted laser desorption electrospray ionization MS imaging for lipid metabolite profiling in 6-month-old zebrafish fed either a VDD or a vitamin D-sufficient (VDS) diet. Using a lipidomics pipeline, we found that VDD zebrafish had a greater abundance of bioactive lipids (N-acyls, endocannabinoids [ECs], diacylglycerols/triacylglycerols, bile acids/bile alcohols, and vitamin D derivatives) suggestive of increased EC tone compared with VDS zebrafish. Tandem MS was performed on several differentially expressed metabolites with sufficient ion abundances to aid in structural elucidation and provide additional support for MS annotations. To confirm activation of the EC pathways, we subsequently examined expression of genes involved in EC biosynthesis, metabolism, and receptor signaling in adipose tissue and liver from VDD and VDS zebrafish. Gene expression changes were congruent with increased EC tone, with VDD zebrafish demonstrating increased synthesis and metabolism of anandamide compared with VDS zebrafish. Taken together, our data suggest that VDD may promote accumulation of bioactive lipids and increased EC tone in zebrafish.

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