10 October 2001
Background: To play its physiological role, 1,25(OH)<sub>2</sub>D<sub>3</sub> must bind to a specific vitamin D receptor (VDR) in the nucleus. We have previously reported that VDR gene polymorphism influences the parathyroid function in patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). In the present study, we have investigated the relationship between the parathyroid responsiveness and VDR gene polymorphism, as detected by the Apa I restriction enzyme, by changing the concentration of Ca<sup>2+</sup> in the dialysate. Methods: 58 Japanese ESRD patients undergoing renal replacement therapy in our institution were evaluated. Genomic DNA was extracted from peripheral leukocytes and digested at the intron between exon 8 and exon 9 of the VDR gene using Apa I enzyme. Then alleles were classified into genotype A (undigested allele) and genotype a (digested allele). Extracellular ionized calcium ([Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<sub>e</sub>), serum phosphate, and intact parathyroid hormone (PTH) were measured before and after each hemodialysis (HD) session with dialysates having different concentrations of Ca<sup>2+</sup> (1.5 or 1.25 mmol/l). The significance of differences in statistical analyses was defined within confidence limits of 5.0%. Results: The AA, Aa, and aa genotypes were observed in 7/58 patients (12.1%), 23/58 patients (39.6%), and 28/58 patients (48.3%), respectively. The PTH reduction after HD with the 1.5-mmol/l Ca dialysate did not differ significantly between group AA+Aa and group aa. On the other hand, the PTH increase was significantly higher in group aa than in group AA+Aa after HD with the 1.25-mmol/l Ca dialysate (p = 0.0107), despite a similar PTH level before HD. Similarly, the percent increase of PTH after HD with the 1.25-mmol/l Ca dialysate was significantly higher (p = 0.0112) in group aa (50.2 ± 9.4%) than in group AA+Aa (19.7 ± 7.2%). There were no significant differences between the two groups in [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<sub>e</sub> nor in serum phosphorus (Pi) before and after HD with either dialysate. Group AA+Aa and group aa did not show statistically significant differences in age, female/male ratio, ratio of diabetic nephropathy, or dialysis period. Conclusions: The study results showed that the patients in group aa were more sensitive to changes in [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<sub>e</sub> than those in group AA+Aa. Moreover, they suggested that the VDR gene polymorphism may affect parathyroid responsiveness to changes in [Ca<sup>2+</sup>]<sub>e</sub>, which in turn may influence onset and progression of hyperparathyroidism in ESRD patients.