Are low plasma levels of 25-(OH)vitamin D a major risk factor for hyperparathyroidism independent of calcitriol in renal transplant patients?

J Nephrol. 2005 Jan-Feb;18(1):96-101.


Background: Recently, some studies have emphasized the role of plasma 25-(OH)vitamin D (25OHD) levels in mineral metabolism dysregulation in chronic kidney diseases (CKDs). However, to date little attention has been paid to 25OHD metabolism abnormalities after renal transplantation (Tx). This cross-sectional study aimed to focus on its role in mineral metabolism dysregulation in functioning Tx.

Methods: Twenty-eight out of 75 Caucasian Tx patients were selected following strict inclusion and exclusion criteria. Two blood samples were effected at the end of the winter for the measurements of plasma 25OHD and calcitriol levels. Serum creatinine (Cr), alkaline phosphatase (SAP), immunoreactive intact parathyroid hormone (PTH), electrolytes and 24-hr proteinuria were also determined. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was used to evaluate the data distribution: serum Cr, Cr clearance, dialysis duration and PTH levels were non-normally distributed and were log-transformed. Values of p<=0.01 were assumed as statistically significant.

Results: Median serum Cr and PTH levels were, respectively, 1.0 mg/dL and 90.0 pg/mL (range 27-420; normal range 10-65); most of our Tx patients (78.5%) had serum PTH levels above the upper limit of normal values. Mean plasma 25OHD concentration was 19.6 +/- 8.9 SD ng/mL (range: 6-36). None had levels <5 ng/mL (severe deficiency); 10 patients (35.7%) had mild deficiency (5-15 ng/mL); 14 patients (50%) had vitamin D insufficiency (16-30 ng/mL); and only four patients (14.3%) had target levels (>30 ng/mL). Mean plasma calcitriol levels were 69.7 +/- 19.0 pg/mL (range 47-105; normal range 35-85). They were not significantly correlated to plasma 25OHD levels. Proteinuria (292.6 +/- 147.0 mg/24 hr) inversely correlated to plasma 25OHD levels (r=-0.480; p<0.01). The bivariate correlation analysis between logPTH and the other parameters showed a significant correlation for SAP (r=0.494; p=0.008), plasma 25OHD levels (r=-0.442; p=0.01), proteinuria (r=0.452; p=0.01), log serum Cr (r=0.551; p=0.002) and log Cr clearance (r=-0.534; p=0.003). The other parameters did not correlate significantly with logPTH, notably plasma calcitriol and serum phosphate levels. Only the parameters significantly correlated to logPTH in the bivariate correlation analysis were included in the back stepwise multiple linear regression analysis as independent variables (model: p<0.0001; R2=0.54): among them, only plasma 25OHD levels (Beta=-0.486; p=0.001) and log serum Cr levels (Beta=0.589; p=0.0002) were the dependent variable logPTH predictors.

Conclusions: This cross-sectional study demonstrated that plasma calcitriol levels in a highly selected group of Tx patients were normal and not significantly correlated to either plasma 25OHD or serum PTH levels. Most patients (85.7%) had plasma 25OHD levels below the target value of 30 ng/mL; the latter were inversely correlated with serum PTH levels. Therefore, our study strengthens the suggestion that low plasma 25OHD levels are a major risk factor for secondary hyperparathyroidism (sHPTH) in Tx patients and stresses the importance of monitoring these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Calcitriol / blood*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperparathyroidism, Secondary / etiology*
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects*
  • Linear Models
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Parathyroid Hormone / blood
  • Postoperative Period
  • Risk Factors
  • Vitamin D / analogs & derivatives*
  • Vitamin D / blood*


  • Parathyroid Hormone
  • Vitamin D
  • 25-hydroxyvitamin D
  • Calcitriol