Chronic effects of dietary vitamin D deficiency without increased calcium supplementation on the progression of experimental polycystic kidney disease

Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2013 Aug 15;305(4):F574-82. doi: 10.1152/ajprenal.00411.2012. Epub 2013 May 22.


Increasing evidence indicates that vitamin D deficiency exacerbates chronic kidney injury, but its effects on renal enlargement in polycystic kidney disease (PKD) are not known. In this study, male Lewis polycystic kidney disease (LPK) rats received a normal diet (ND; AIN-93G) supplemented with or without cholecalciferol (vitamin D-deficient diet, VDD; both 0.5% calcium), commenced at either postnatal week 3 (until weeks 10-20; study 1) or from week 10 (until week 20; study 2). Levels of 25-hydroxy vitamin D were reduced in groups receiving the VDD (12 ± 1 nmol/l vs. 116 ± 5 in ND; P < 0.001). In study 1, food intake and weight gain increased by ∼25% in LPK rats receiving the VDD ad libitum, and at week 20 this was associated with a mild reduction in the corrected serum calcium (SCa(2+), 7.4%) and TKW:BW ratio (8.8%), and exacerbation of proteinuria (87%) and hypertension (19%; all P < 0.05 vs. ND). When LPK rats were pair-fed for weeks 3-10, there was a further reduction in the SCa(2+) (25%) and TKW:BW ratio (22%) in the VDD group (P < 0.05 vs. ND). In study 2, the VDD did not alter food intake and body weight, reduced SCa(2+) (7.7%), worsened proteinuria (41.9%), interstitial monocyte accumulation (26.4%), renal dysfunction (21.4%), and cardiac enlargement (13.2%, all P < 0.05), but there was a trend for a reduction in the TKW:BW ratio (13%, P = 0.09). These data suggest that chronic vitamin D deficiency has adverse long-term actions on proteinuria, interstitial inflammation, renal function, and cardiovascular disease in PKD, and these negate its mild inhibitory effect on kidney enlargement.

Keywords: hypertension; kidney enlargement; polycystic kidney disease; vitamin D.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium, Dietary / pharmacology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications*
  • Cholecalciferol / blood
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Disease Progression
  • Kidney / pathology*
  • Male
  • Phosphates / blood
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / complications
  • Polycystic Kidney Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Proteinuria
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Lew
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / complications
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / drug therapy*


  • Calcium, Dietary
  • Phosphates
  • Cholecalciferol