Low 25-OH serum vitamin D (VitD) is pervasive in older adults and linked to functional decline and progression of frailty. We have previously shown that chronic VitD insufficiency in “middle-aged” mice results in impaired anaerobic exercise capacity, decreased lean mass, and increased adiposity.
Here, we examine if VitD insufficiency results in similar deficits and greater frailty progression in old-aged (24 to 28 months of age) mice. Similar to what we report in younger mice, older mice exhibit a rapid and sustained response in serum 25-OH VitD levels to differential supplementation, including insufficient (125 IU/kg chow), sufficient (1000 IU/kg chow), and hypersufficient (8000 IU/kg chow) groups. During the 4-month time course, mice were assessed for body composition (DEXA), physical performance, and frailty using a Fried physical phenotype-based assessment tool.
The 125 IU mice exhibited worse grip strength (p = 0.002) and inverted grip hang time (p = 0.003) at endpoint and the 8000 IU mice transiently displayed greater rotarod performance after 3 months (p = 0.012), yet other aspects including treadmill performance and gait speed were unaffected. However, 125 and 1000 IU mice exhibited greater frailty compared to baseline (p = 0.001 and p = 0.038, respectively), whereas 8000 IU mice did not (p = 0.341).
These data indicate targeting higher serum 25-OH vitamin D levels may attenuate frailty progression during aging