The relationship between vitamin D and parathyroid hormone: calcium homeostasis, bone turnover, and bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with established osteoporosis

O Sahota, M K Mundey, P San, I M Godber, N Lawson, D J Hosking
Bone 2004, 35 (1): 312-9
It is evident from several studies that not all patients with hypovitaminosis D develop secondary hyperparathyroidism. What this means for bone biochemistry and bone mineral density (BMD) remains unclear. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of hypovitaminosis D (defined as a 25OHD < or = 30 nmol/l) and patients with a blunted PTH response (defined arbitrarily as a PTH within the standard laboratory reference range in the presence of a 25OHD < or = 30 nmol/l) in comparison to patients with hypovitaminosis D and secondary hyperparathyroidism (defined arbitrarily as a PTH above the standard laboratory reference range in the presence of a 25OHD < or = 30 nmol/l) and vitamin D-replete subjects (25OHD > 30 nmol/l). Four hundred twenty-one postmenopausal women (mean age: 71.2 years) with established vertebral osteoporosis were evaluated by assessing mean serum calcium, 25OHD, 1,25(OH)2D, bone turnover markers, and BMD. The prevalence of hypovitaminosis D was 39%. Secondary hyperparathyroidism was found in only one-third of these patients who maintained calcium homeostasis at the expense of increased bone turnover relative to the vitamin D-replete subjects (bone ALP mean difference: 43.9 IU/l [95% CI: 24.8, 59.1], osteocalcin: 1.3 ng/ml [95% CI: 1.1, 2.5], free deoxypyridinoline mean difference: 2.6 nmol/nmol creatinine [95% CI: 2.5, 4.8]) and bone loss (total hip BMD mean difference: 0.11 g/cm2 [95% CI: 0.09, 0.12]). Patients with hypovitaminosis D and a blunted PTH response were characterized by a lower serum calcium (mean difference: 0.07 mmol/l [95% CI: 0.08, 0.2]), a reduction in bone turnover (bone ALP mean difference: 42.4 IU/l [95% CI: 27.8, 61.9], osteocalcin: 1.6 ng/ml [95% CI: 0.3, 3.1], free-deoxypyridinoline mean difference: 3.0 nmol/nmol creatinine [95% CI: 1.9, 5.9]), but protection in bone density (total hip BMD mean difference: 0.10 g/cm2, [95% CI: 0.08, 0.11]) as compared to those with hypovitaminosis D and secondary hyperparathyroidism. This study identifies a distinct group of patients with hypovitaminosis D and a blunted PTH response who show a disruption in calcium homeostasis but protected against PTH-mediated bone loss. This has clinical implications with respect to disease definition and may be important in deciding the optimal replacement therapy in patients with hypovitaminosis D but a blunted PTH response.

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