Objective: Vitamin D may contribute to cardiovascular disease in the absence of hypercalcemia in patients with chronic kidney disease.
Methods: We investigated the effects of long-term (6-week) treatment with 1,25(OH)2D3, at a non-hypercalcemic dosage (0.25 microg/kg per day per orally) in 5/6 nephrectomized rats: (i) vehicle-treated, sham-operated rats; (ii) 1,25(OH)2D3-treated, sham-operated rats; (iii) vehicle-treated, 5/6 nephrectomized rats; and (iv) 1,25(OH)2D3-treated, 5/6 nephrectomized rats.
Results: Creatinine clearance after 6 weeks was significantly lower and parathyroid hormone levels were significantly higher in 1,25(OH)2D3-treated uremic rats, compared with uremic controls (P < 0.01). Serum calcium levels, as well as the calcium-phosphorus product, did not differ between both groups. Mean systolic blood pressure in 1,25(OH)2D3-treated animals was significantly increased, compared with vehicle (each P < 0.01). In addition, 1,25(OH)2D3-treated uremic animals showed left ventricular hypertrophy. Diffuse aortic calcification involving the intima and media layer occurred in 1,25(OH)2D3-treated uremic animals, but not in other groups. The mean aortic wall area and lumen area were increased two-fold in 1,25(OH)2D3-treated uremic animals compared with vehicle (P < 0.01), whereas the wall/lumen ratio remained unchanged, indicating fusiform aneurysm formation.
Conclusions: Hypertension, left ventricular hypertrophy, aortic calcification, and aneurysm, without hypercalcemia, occurred in 1,25(OH)2D3-treated, 5/6 nephrectomized rats. These data indicate a permissive effect of uremia for cardiovascular damage induced by non-hypercalcemic doses of 1,25(OH)2D3.