An overview of current information on the mechanisms by which intestinal calcium absorption occurs is described in this article. Both paracellular and transcellular pathways are analyzed. Special emphasis focuses on molecules participating in the latter pathway, such as TRPV5 and TRPV6 channels, located in the apical region of the enterocytes, CB(9k) and CB(28k), presumably involved in the cation movement from the apical to the basolateral pole of the cell, and PMCA(1b) and Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger, proteins that extrude Ca(2+) from the cells. Current concepts on the relative importance of paracellular and transcellular calcium transport and the vitamin D dependence of each pathway are referred and analyzed showing the contrasting views on this issue. More detailed information is given regarding the stimulatory effect of vitamin D on intestinal Ca(2+) absorption either in animal models or in the human intestine. The possible mechanisms triggered by hormones such as PTH, calcitonin, estrogen, thyroid hormone, glucocorticoids and different nutritional factors on intestinal calcium absorption are also reviewed. Finally, the influence of physiological conditions such as growth, pregnancy, lactation and aging on intestinal calcium absorption are discussed.
Copyright 2008 S. Karger AG, Basel.