Purpose: Substantial experimental and epidemiological data indicate that 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (calcitriol) has potent antiproliferative effects on human prostate cancer cells. We performed an open label, nonrandomized pilot trial to determine whether calcitriol therapy is safe and efficacious for early recurrent prostate cancer. Our hypothesis was that calcitriol therapy slows the rate of rise of prostate specific antigen (PSA) compared with the pretreatment rate.
Materials and methods: After primary treatment with radiation or surgery recurrence was indicated by rising serum PSA levels documented on at least 3 occasions. Seven subjects completed 6 to 15 months of calcitriol therapy, starting with 0.5 microg. calcitriol daily and slowly increasing to a maximum dose of 2.5 microg. daily depending on individual calciuric and calcemic responses. Each subject served as his own control, comparing the rate of PSA rise before and after calcitriol treatment.
Results: As determined by multiple regression analysis, the rate of PSA rise during versus before calcitriol therapy significantly decreased in 6 of 7 patients, while in the remaining man a deceleration in the rate of PSA rise did not reach statistical significance. Overall the decreased rate of PSA rise was statistically significant (p = 0.02 Wilcoxon signed rank test). Dose dependent hypercalciuria limited the maximal calcitriol therapy given (range 1.5 to 2.5 microg. daily).
Conclusions: This pilot study provides preliminary evidence that calcitriol effectively slows the rate of PSA rise in select cases, although dose dependent calciuric side effects limit its clinical usefulness. The development of calcitriol analogues with decreased calcemic side effects is promising, since such analogues may be even more effective for treating prostate cancer.