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      Vitamin D Analogues and Coronary Calcification in CKD Stages 3 and 4: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Calcitriol Versus Paricalcitol

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          Rationale & Objective

          Mineral and bone disorder in chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with progression of coronary artery calcification (CAC). Mineral and bone disorder often is treated with calcitriol and other vitamin D receptor activators, including paricalcitol, agents that may have differential effects on calcium, phosphate, and parathyroid hormone levels. Accordingly, we investigated whether these agents have differential effects on CAC progression in patients with CKD.

          Study Design

          Randomized, double-concealed, 48-week clinical trial.

          Setting & Participants

          CKD stage 3 or 4 with secondary hyperparathyroidism with CAC score > 0 and no prior treatment with activated vitamin D.


          Calcitriol versus paricalcitol.


          The primary outcome was log-transformed CAC change. Secondary outcomes included percent change in CAC volume, valvular calcifications, and bone mineral metabolism markers.


          Among 44 individuals randomly assigned, mean age was 65 years and mean estimated glomerular filtration rate was 27 mL/min/1.73 m 2. Median CAC score was 140 (IQR, 55-277) Agatston units at baseline. There was no significant difference in CAC progression between treatment arms ( P = 0.06). After adjustment for baseline CAC score (log), treatment group remains nonsignificant ( P = 0.08). Further adjustment for creatinine level and/or CKD stage did not change the association. In secondary analyses adjusting for dose level of activated vitamin D, treatment group was significant ( P = 0.01), and when dose level was also included in the model, the coefficient for individuals in the paricalcitol group was significantly associated with CAC progression ( P = 0.02). An interaction term between dosing level and CKD stage was significant at the highest dosing level ( P = 0.04).


          Pilot single-center study.


          In patients with CKD with secondary hyperparathyroidism naive to activated vitamin D therapy, there was no difference in CAC or valvular progression in participants receiving calcitriol compared with paricalcitol during a 48-week period.


          Abbvie, Inc.

          Trial Registration


          Graphical abstract

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          Most cited references 26

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          Survival of patients undergoing hemodialysis with paricalcitol or calcitriol therapy.

          Elevated calcium and phosphorus levels after therapy with injectable vitamin D for secondary hyperparathyroidism may accelerate vascular disease and hasten death in patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis. Paricalcitol, a new vitamin D analogue, appears to lessen the elevations in serum calcium and phosphorus levels, as compared with calcitriol, the standard form of injectable vitamin D. We conducted a historical cohort study to compare the 36-month survival rate among patients undergoing long-term hemodialysis who started to receive treatment with paricalcitol (29,021 patients) or calcitriol (38,378 patients) between 1999 and 2001. Crude and adjusted survival rates were calculated and stratified analyses were performed. A subgroup of 16,483 patients who switched regimens was also evaluated. The mortality rate among patients receiving paricalcitol was 3417 per 19,031 person-years (0.180 per person-year), as compared with 6805 per 30,471 person-years (0.223 per person-year) among those receiving calcitriol (P<0.001). The difference in survival was significant at 12 months and increased with time (P<0.001). In the adjusted analysis, the mortality rate was 16 percent lower (95 percent confidence interval, 10 to 21 percent) among paricalcitol-treated patients than among calcitriol-treated patients. A significant survival benefit was evident in 28 of 42 strata examined, and in no stratum was calcitriol favored. At 12 months, calcium and phosphorus levels had increased by 6.7 and 11.9 percent, respectively, in the paricalcitol group, as compared with 8.2 and 13.9 percent, respectively, in the calcitriol group (P<0.001). The two-year survival rate among patients who switched from calcitriol to paricalcitol was 73 percent, as compared with 64 percent among those who switched from paricalcitol to calcitriol (P=0.04). Patients who receive paricalcitol while undergoing long-term hemodialysis appear to have a significant survival advantage over those who receive calcitriol. A prospective, randomized study is critical to confirm these findings. Copyright 2003 Massachusetts Medical Society
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            Vitamin D therapy and cardiac structure and function in patients with chronic kidney disease: the PRIMO randomized controlled trial.

            Vitamin D is associated with decreased cardiovascular-related morbidity and mortality, possibly by modifying cardiac structure and function, yet firm evidence for either remains lacking. To determine the effects of an active vitamin D compound, paricalcitol, on left ventricular mass over 48 weeks in patients with an estimated glomerular filtration rate of 15 to 60 mL/min/1.73 m(2). Multinational, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial among 227 patients with chronic kidney disease, mild to moderate left ventricular hypertrophy, and preserved left ventricular ejection fraction, conducted in 11 countries from July 2008 through September 2010. Participants were randomly assigned to receive oral paricalcitol, 2 μg/d (n =115), or matching placebo (n = 112). Change in left ventricular mass index over 48 weeks by cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging. Secondary end points included echocardiographic changes in left ventricular diastolic function. Treatment with paricalcitol reduced parathyroid hormone levels within 4 weeks and maintained levels within the normal range throughout the study duration. At 48 weeks, the change in left ventricular mass index did not differ between treatment groups (paricalcitol group, 0.34 g/m(2.7) [95% CI, -0.14 to 0.83 g/m(2.7)] vs placebo group, -0.07 g/m(2.7) [95% CI, -0.55 to 0.42 g/m(2.7)]). Doppler measures of diastolic function including peak early diastolic lateral mitral annular tissue velocity (paricalcitol group, -0.01 cm/s [95% CI, -0.63 to 0.60 cm/s] vs placebo group, -0.30 cm/s [95% CI, -0.93 to 0.34 cm/s]) also did not differ. Episodes of hypercalcemia were more frequent in the paricalcitol group compared with the placebo group. Forty-eight week therapy with paricalcitol did not alter left ventricular mass index or improve certain measures of diastolic dysfunction in patients with chronic kidney disease. Identifier: NCT00497146.
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              Activated vitamin D attenuates left ventricular abnormalities induced by dietary sodium in Dahl salt-sensitive animals.

              Observations in hemodialysis patients suggest a survival advantage associated with activated vitamin D therapy. Left ventricular (LV) structural and functional abnormalities are strongly linked with hemodialysis mortality. Here, we investigated whether paricalcitol (PC, 19-nor-1,25(OH)(2)D(2)), an activated vitamin D compound, attenuates the development of LV abnormalities in the Dahl salt-sensitive (DSS) rat and whether humans demonstrate comparable findings. Compared with DSS rats fed a high-salt (HS) diet (6% NaCl for 6 weeks), HS+PC was associated with lower heart and lung weights, reduced LV mass, posterior wall thickness and end diastolic pressures, and increased fractional shortening. Blood pressures did not significantly differ between the HS groups. Plasma brain natriuretic peptide levels, and cardiac mRNA expression of brain natriuretic peptide, atrial natriuretic factor, and renin were significantly reduced in the HS+PC animals. Microarray analyses revealed 45 specific HS genes modified by PC. In a retrospective pilot study of hemodialysis patients, PC-treated subjects demonstrated improved diastolic function and a reduction in LV septal and posterior wall thickness by echocardiography compared with untreated patients. In summary, PC attenuates the development of LV alterations in DSS rats, and these effects should be examined in human clinical trials.

                Author and article information

                Kidney Med
                Kidney Med
                Kidney Medicine
                17 June 2020
                Jul-Aug 2020
                17 June 2020
                : 2
                : 4
                : 450-458
                Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA
                Author notes
                [] Address for Correspondence: Sylvia E. Rosas, MD, MSCE, Joslin Diabetes Center, Harvard Medical School, One Joslin Pl, Boston, MA 02215. sylvia.rosas@
                © 2020 The Authors

                This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

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