Metabolism of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3

Physiol Rev. 1984 Apr;64(2):478-504. doi: 10.1152/physrev.1984.64.2.478.


Synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D3 is controlled by numerous factors. The major ones, however, are the circulating amounts of parathyroid hormone (the secretion of which is stimulated by low serum calcium), serum or extracellular fluid phosphorus concentrations, circulating levels of 1,25(OH)2D3 itself, and perhaps serum calcium directly. Many of the other factors noted have effects in vitro only or effects that are observed inconsistently or in one species only. Thus, in low-calcium states, 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis increases because of increased parathyroid hormone activity. Parathyroid hormone may stimulate 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis directly or via alterations (a decrease) in serum phosphorus or both. Low serum phosphorus will stimulate 1,25(OH)2D3 synthesis independent of parathyroid hormone levels. Low serum calcium may directly stimulate 25(OH)D3 1 alpha-hydroxylase activity independently of parathyroid hormone. In general terms the vitamin D-endocrine system tends to correct abnormalities in calcium and phosphorus homeostasis. The further metabolism of 1,25(OH)2D3 to other metabolites appears to be mainly a degradative or excretory process. Currently there is no evidence that 1,25(OH)2D3 must itself be altered to other metabolites prior to inducing intestinal calcium transport or bone mobilization. The processes involved in the excretion of 1,25(OH)2D3, such as side-chain oxidation and biliary excretion, are not regulated by serum calcium, phosphorus, or 1,25(OH)2D3 levels. The biliary excretion pathway is also unsaturable over a very wide range and not regulated by calcium, phosphorus, or vitamin D3. Therefore these processes, which account for a large part of the metabolism of 1,25(OH)2D3, are largely unregulated by factors that control the synthesis of 1,25(OH)2D3 and regulate the formation of other calcium-controlling hormones. Other processes involved in the metabolism of 1,25(OH)2D3, such as 24-hydroxylation and 26-hydroxylation, occur in normocalcemic and normophosphatemic states. 24-Hydroxylation is also induced by 1,25(OH)2D3, which benefits the organism, because excessive 1,25(OH)2D3 in various tissues can be altered to a less active metabolite, 1,24,25(OH)3D3. Although there is still no evidence concerning the regulation of C-24 oxidation by dietary calcium and phosphorus levels, the fact that this process is induced by 1,25(OH)2D3 suggests that the metabolic pathway functions in much the same manner as the 24-hydroxylation pathway. The formation of 1,25(OH)2D3-26,23-lactone occurs in normocalcemic states and in situations in which 1,25(OH)2D3 has been administered.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bile / metabolism
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Calcitriol / analogs & derivatives
  • Calcitriol / biosynthesis
  • Calcitriol / metabolism*
  • Chickens
  • Cholecalciferol / metabolism
  • Cholecalciferol / pharmacology
  • Half-Life
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylation
  • Intestinal Mucosa / metabolism
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Rats
  • Vitamin D Deficiency / metabolism


  • Cholecalciferol
  • 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3-26,23-lactone
  • Calcitriol