Journal Article

Effects of calcitriol on parathyroid function and on bone remodelling in secondary hyperparathyroidism

André Falcão Pedrosa Costa, Luciene Machado dos Reis, Melani Custódio Ribeiro, Rosa Maria Affonso Moysés and Vanda Jorgetti

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 18, issue 4, pages 743-749
Published in print April 2003 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online April 2003 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
Effects of calcitriol on parathyroid function and on bone remodelling in secondary hyperparathyroidism

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Background. Secondary hyperparathyroidism (2HPT) develops in chronic renal failure due to disturbances of calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D metabolism. It is characterized by high turnover bone disease and an altered calcium–parathyroid hormone (PTH) relationship. Calcitriol has been widely used for the treatment of 2HPT. However, it remains controversial whether calcitriol is capable of inducing changes of the calcium–PTH curve. The aim of the present study was to examine this issue and to determine the effect of calcitriol on bone remodelling in patients with severe 2HPT.

Methods. We evaluated 16 chronic haemodialysis patients with severe 2HPT (PTH 899±342 pg/ml). Each patient underwent a dynamic parathyroid function test (by infusion of calcium gluconate and sodium citrate) and a bone biopsy before and after a 6 month period of i.v. calcitriol therapy (CTx).

Results. After treatment, eight patients were identified as calcitriol responders and the other eight as non‐responders, based on plasma PTH level (<300 pg/ml for responders and >300 pg/ml for non‐responders). The first group had higher plasma 25OHD3 levels (39±8 vs 24±7 ng/ml, P<0.005). As to the calcium–PTH curve, we found differences in slope (−12.7±5.2 vs −21.7±11.4, P=0.05), basal/maximum PTH ratio (48.8±14.9 vs 71.05±20.1%, P=0.01) and time to achieve hypocalcaemia (79.0±13.5 vs 94.3±13.7 min, P<0.001). Initial histomorphometric parameters did not allow identification of the different groups. After the 6‐month CTx, alterations in the calcium–PTH curve were clearly seen in responders [a drop in maximum PTH (from 1651±616 to 938±744 pg/ml, P<0.05) and minimum PTH (from 163±75.4 to 102.2±56.7 pg/ml, P<0.005)], associated with an increase in minimum/basal PTH ratio (from 23.3±11.6 to 34.5±20.4%, P<0.05) and maximum calcium (from 0.99±0.07 to 1.1±0.09 mmol/l, P<0.05). Set point and slope were not altered after calcitriol treatment, in responders (set point=1.17±0.08 vs 1.15±0.1 mmol/l, ns; slope=−12.7±5.2 vs −12.9±9.3, ns) or non‐responders (set point=1.21±0.05 vs 1.21±0.2 mmol/l, ns; slope=−21.7±11.4 vs −17.3±8.4, ns). Bone formation parameters were reduced in all patients [osteoid surface (OS/BS)=from 57.1±21.6 to 41.6±26%, P<0.05 for responders, and from 76.7±12 to 47.1±15%, P<0.001 in non‐responders], but non‐responders had increased bone resorption [eroded surface (ES/BS)=7.1±3.4 vs 16.6±4.9, P<0.05].

Conclusion. Calcitriol had non‐uniform effects on parathyroid function and bone remodelling in uraemic patients. Non‐responders exhibited a decoupled remodelling process that could further influence mineral balance or possibly also bone structure. To avoid such undesirable effects, early identification of nonresponder patients is crucial when using calcitriol for the treatment of 2HPT.

Keywords: bone biopsy; calcitriol; calcium; histomorphometry; PTH; secondary hyperparathyroidism

Journal Article.  4571 words. 

Subjects: Nephrology

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