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Nephron Clin Pract. 2007;105(3):c132-8. Epub 2007 Jan 16.

Prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the safety and effectiveness of monthly ergocalciferol in hemodialysis patients.

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Chromalloy American Kidney Center and Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, Renal Division, Saint Louis, MO 65212, USA.



Vitamin D deficiency is common in CKD and dialysis patients. Studies suggest a physiologic autocrine and/or paracrine role for 1,25(OH)D produced via 1alpha-hydroxylase in tissues such as vascular smooth muscle, breast, prostate, and bone marrow. Studies have not yet defined the optimal dose and duration of vitamin D necessary to replete and maintain stores in dialysis patients, or whether it is safe or beneficial.


We performed a review of the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency and the safety and effectiveness of ergocalciferol oral supplementation (vitamin D(2), 50,000 IU monthly) given to hemodialysis patients during dialysis May to October 2005 in St. Louis (latitude 38 degrees ).


Among the 119-patient cohort present for the entire 6 months, 25(OH)D was (mean +/- SD) 16.9 +/- 8.5 ng/ml, (91% < 30 ng/ml) and increased to 53.6 +/- 16.3 ng/ml (p < 0.001), (95% > 30 ng/ml, and none > 100 ng/ml). Initial versus 6 mo. serum calcium (9.1 +/- 0.56 vs. 9.2 +/- 0.70), phosphorus (5.25 +/- 1.38 vs. 5.11 +/- 1.31), Ca x P, and paricalcitol dose (10.3 +/- 9.6 vs. 11.3 +/- 9.2 mcg/week) were not significantly different. No hypercalcemia could be attributed to supplementation. Mean hemoglobin did not change significantly (11.96 +/- 1.4 vs. 11.69 +/- 1.4, p = 0.124), but most patients experienced a reduced weekly epoetin dose. Epoetin dose decreased in 64% of patients, and increased in 28%.


We conclude that the vast majority of hemodialysis patients are vitamin D-deficient; monthly ergocalciferol 50,000 IU is safe and effective in normalizing serum 25(OH)D levels and may have an epoetin-sparing effect.

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