Vitamin D is the critical hormone for intestinal absorption of calcium. Optimal calcium absorption is important for proper mineralization of bone in the prevention of osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures, among other important functions. Diseases associated with gut inflammation, such as Crohn's disease (CD), may impair calcium absorption. This pilot study evaluated vitamin D- dependent calcium absorption in subjects with CD. Male subjects with CD (n=4) and healthy age-matched controls (n=5) were studied. All subjects had fractional calcium absorption (FCA; by the dual calcium isotope method), serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D, serum calcium and 24 h urinary calcium excretion measurements at baseline. The FCA in response to vitamin D therapy was re-assessed following administration of oral calcitriol 0.25 mcg twice daily for 1 wk, followed by oral calcitriol 0.50 mcg twice daily for 1 wk. Serum calcium and 24 h urinary calcium determinations were re-assessed after each increasing dose of calcitriol as safety measures. There was no significant difference in calcium FCA at baseline or after increasing doses of calcitriol between the CD and controls. FCA in the control and CD group was approximately 35% at baseline, which increased to 60% after calcitriol therapy. No subject developed hypercalcemia or hypercalciuria. Our results suggest that CD patients have a normal response to vitamin D in enhancing the efficacy of calcium absorption. This suggests that stable CD patients can follow calcium and vitamin D guidelines of non-CD adults. Other factors independent of vitamin D status may impair intestinal calcium absorption in CD, including the degree and location of inflammation, presence of surgical resection and/or use of glucocorticoids.
Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00427804.