Vitamin D, along with calcium, is generally considered necessary for bone health and reduction of fractures. However, he effects of improving vitamin D status have not always been observed to improve bone mineral density (BMD). We have investigated whether varying vitamin D status in humans, as measured by serum 25(OH)D levels, relate to micro-structural and histomorphetric measures of bone quality and quantity, rather than density. Intertrochanteric trabecular bone biopsies and serum samples were collected from patients undergoing hip arthroplasty (65 females, 38 males, mean age 84.8 ± 8.3 years) at Royal Adelaide Hospital. Estimated GFR, serum ionized calcium, alkaline phosphatase, albumin, supplement and medication intake prior to surgery were taken from patient case records. Serum 25(OH)D, 1,25(OH)2D, and parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels were measured by immunoassays. Trabecular bone structural indices were determined by high-resolution micro-CT. Mean wall thickness (MWT) was measured on toluidine blue-stained histological sections. Bone mRNA levels for vitamin D metabolising enzymes CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 were measured by qRT-PCR. While serum 25(OH)D levels did not associate with bone volume/tissue volume (BV/TV%), serum 25(OH)D levels were strongly and independently associated with MWT (r = 0.81 p < 0.0001) with values significantly greater in patients with higher serum 25(OH)D levels. Furthermore, serum 25(OH)D levels were negatively associated with Bone Surface/Bone Volume (BS/BV) (r = -0.206, p < 0.05) and together with bone CYP27B1 and CYP24A1 mRNA accounted for 10% of the variability of BS/BV (p = 0.001). These data demonstrate that serum 25(OH)D is an independent positive predictor of micro-structural and bone formation measures and may be dependent, in part, on its metabolism within the bone.
Keywords: 25-hydroxyvitamin D; CYP24A1; CYP27B1; bone surface/bone volume ratio; mean wall thickness; plate-like trabecular structure.