[Note: Calcitriol is a form of vitamin D used to treat and prevent low levels of calcium in the blood of patients whose kidneys or parathyroid glands are not working normally. The parathyroids are glands in the neck that release natural substances to control the amount of calcium in the blood.]
Parenteral vitamin D is associated with improved survival among long-term hemodialysis patients. Among nondialyzed patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD), oral activated vitamin D reduces parathyroid hormone levels, but the impact on clinical outcomes is unknown.
We evaluated associations of oral calcitriol use with mortality and dialysis dependence in 1418 nondialysis patients with CKD and hyperparathyroidism in the Veterans’ Affairs Consumer Health Information and Performance Sets database. Incident calcitriol users and nonusers were selected on the basis of stages 3 to 4 CKD, hyperparathyroidism, and the absence of hypercalcemia before calcitriol use and then were matched by age and estimated kidney function.
During a median follow-up of 1.9 yr, 408 (29%) patients died and 217 (16%) initiated long-term dialysis. After adjustment for demographics; comorbidities; estimated kidney function; medications; and baseline levels of parathyroid hormone, calcium, and phosphorous, oral calcitriol use was associated with:
- A 26% lower risk for death (95% confidence interval 5 to 42% lower; P = 0.016)
- And a 20% lower risk for death or dialysis (95% confidence interval 1 to 35% lower; P = 0.038).
The association of calcitriol with improved survival was not statistically different across baseline parathyroid hormone levels. Calcitriol use was associated with a greater risk for hypercalcemia. [Above-normal calcium level in blood. While calcium is necessary for bone formation, muscle contraction and maintaining nerve and brain function, too much can interfere with these processes.]
In conclusion, oral calcitriol use is associated with lower mortality in nondialysis patients with CKD.
Source: Journal of the American Society of Nephrology, Aug 2008. E-pub ahead of print. DOI:10.1681/ASN.2007111164 by Shoben AB, Rudser KD, de Boer IH, Young B, Kestenbaum B. Division of Nephrology, Puget Sound Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center; Division of Nephrology, Harborview Medical Center, University of Washington, Seattle, USA. [E-mail: