High-dose cholecalciferol to correct vitamin D deficiency in haemodialysis patients

Faruk Tokmak, Ivo Quack, Gisela Schieren, Lorenz Sellin, Dirk Rattensperger, Tim Holland-Letz, Stefan M Weiner, Lars C Rump
Nephrology, Dialysis, Transplantation 2008, 23 (12): 4016-20

BACKGROUND: Vitamin D has emerged as an important survival factor in patients with chronic kidney disease. Non-activated vitamin D may also have beneficial effects on bone, cardiovascular and immune functions. Cholecalciferol is the prevalent non-activated vitamin D in Europe, but there is no valid prospective data available about its use in haemodialysis patients. Thus, we initiated a prospective study to evaluate dosing, safety and tolerability of cholecalciferol supplementation in haemodialysis patients.

METHODS: The prospective study included 64 haemodialysis patients. During replenishment phase patients received 20 000 IU cholecalciferol/week for 9 months. In the open maintenance phase (15 months), patients were randomized to a treated group (20 000 IU cholecalciferol/month) and an untreated group, which did not receive cholecalciferol.

RESULTS: Calcidiol [25(OH)D] deficiency (<37.5 nmol/l; <15 microg/l) was detected in 61/64 patients (95%). During the replenishment phase, calcidiol increased significantly from 16.65 +/- 9.6 to 79.48 +/- 27.15 nmol/l (6.66 +/- 3.84 microug/l to 31.79 +/- 10.86 microg/l) (P < 0.001). Recommended levels (>75 nmol/l; >30 microg/l; K/DOQI) were achieved in 57% of patients. Calcium increased from 2.28 +/- 0.17 to 2.37 +/- 0.19 mmol/l (9.1 +/- 0.69 mg/dl to 9.49 +/- 0.75 mg/dl) (P<0.01). Phosphorus, calcium-phosphorus product and parathyroid hormone showed no significant changes. Fifty-nine patients progressed to the maintenance phase. Analysis per protocol showed a significant drop of calcidiol in the treated [83.98 +/- 31.73 versus 78.5 +/- 38.75 nmol/l (33.59 +/- 12.69 versus 31.4 +/- 15.5 microg/l) (P < 0.001)] and untreated groups [86.35 +/- 40.75 versus 53.4 +/- 26.2 nmol/l (34.54 +/- 16.3 versus 21.36 +/- 10.48 microg/l) (P < 0.001)]. The comparison of the treated and the untreated groups showed no significant differences at the beginning of the maintenance phase: 83.98 +/- 31.73 versus 86.35 +/- 40.75 nmol/l (33.59 +/- 12.69 versus 34.54 +/- 16.3 microg/l). At the end they differed significantly: 78.5 +/- 38.75 versus 53.4 +/- 26.2 nmol/l (31.4 +/- 15.5 versus 21.36 +/- 10.48 microg/l) (P < 0.001).

CONCLUSION: Vitamin D deficiency is present in a majority of haemodialysis patients. Supplementation with cholecalciferol is safe, well tolerated and reasonable to replenish vitamin D stores in haemodialysis patients. However, only 57% of patients achieved recommended calcidiol levels, thus favouring additional dose-finding studies.

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