Effects of vitamin D3 and paricalcitol on immature cardiomyocytes: a novel role for vitamin D analogs in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases

Nutrients. 2013 Jun 7;5(6):2076-92. doi: 10.3390/nu5062076.


Cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent in patients with chronic kidney disease than in the general population and they are considered the leading cause of death in patients with end-stage renal disease. The discovery that vitamin D3 plays a considerable role in cardiovascular protection has led, in recent years, to an increase in the administration of therapies based on the use of this molecule; nevertheless, several studies warned that an excess of vitamin D3 may increase the risk of hypercalcemia and vascular calcifications. In this study we evaluated the effects of vitamin D3, and of its selective analog paricalcitol, on immature cardiomyocytes. Results show that vitamin D3 induces cAMP-mediated cell proliferation and significant intracellular calcification. Paricalcitol, however, induces cell differentiation, morphological modifications in cell shape and size, and no intracellular calcification. Furthermore, vitamin D3 and paricalcitol differently affect cardiomyoblasts responses to acetylcholine treatment. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that the effects of vitamin D3 and paricalcitol on cardiomyoblasts are different and, if these in vitro observations could be extrapolated in vivo, they suggest that paricalcitol has the potential for cardiovascular protection without the risk of inducing intracellular calcification.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Calcinosis / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / complications
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Cholecalciferol / administration & dosage*
  • Cholecalciferol / analogs & derivatives
  • Ergocalciferols / administration & dosage*
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / drug effects
  • Myocytes, Cardiac / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Renal Insufficiency, Chronic / complications


  • Ergocalciferols
  • Cholecalciferol
  • paricalcitol
  • Acetylcholine