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J Biol Chem. 2004 Apr 16;279(16):16754-66. Epub 2004 Jan 22.

Inactivation of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D 1alpha-hydroxylase and vitamin D receptor demonstrates independent and interdependent effects of calcium and vitamin D on skeletal and mineral homeostasis.

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Calcium Research Laboratory, Departments of Medicine, Physiology, and Human Genetics, McGill University Health Centre and McGill University, Montreal, Quebec H3A 1A1, Canada.


We employed a genetic approach to determine whether deficiency of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D) and deficiency of the vitamin D receptor (VDR) produce the same alterations in skeletal and calcium homeostasis and whether calcium can subserve the skeletal functions of 1,25(OH)2D and the VDR. Mice with targeted deletion of the 25-hydroxyvitamin D 1alpha-hydroxylase (1alpha(OH)ase-/-) gene, the VDR gene, and both genes were exposed to 1) a high calcium intake, which maintained fertility but left mice hypocalcemic; 2) this intake plus three times weekly injections of 1,25(OH)2D3, which normalized calcium in the 1alpha(OH)ase-/- mice only; or 3) a "rescue" diet, which normalized calcium in all mutants. These regimens induced different phenotypic changes, thereby disclosing selective modulation by calcium and the vitamin D system. Parathyroid gland size and the development of the cartilaginous growth plate were each regulated by calcium and by 1,25(OH)2D3 but independent of the VDR. Parathyroid hormone secretion and mineralization of bone reflected ambient calcium levels rather than the 1,25(OH)2D/VDR system. In contrast, increased calcium absorption and optimal osteoblastogenesis and osteoclastogenesis were modulated by the 1,25(OH)2D/VDR system. These studies indicate that the calcium ion and the 1,25(OH)2D/VDR system exert discrete effects on skeletal and calcium homeostasis, which may occur coordinately or independently.

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