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Endocrinology. 1986 Jul;119(1):84-90.

Vitamin D3 improves impaired glucose tolerance and insulin secretion in the vitamin D-deficient rat in vivo.


It has previously been shown in this laboratory that vitamin D3 is essential for normal insulin secretion from the perfused rat pancreas. In this present study, the influence of vitamin D status on insulin secretion in vivo was investigated. Intravenous glucose tolerance tests were performed on conscious vitamin D-deficient rats (-D), vitamin D-replete rats fed ad libitum (+D AL), and vitamin D-replete rats pair fed to the D-deficient animals (+D PF). Vitamin D deficiency, easily recognizable by low daily dietary intake and depressed plasma calcium levels, was found to impair plasma glucose clearance as characterized by an elevated KG value (representing a function of the area beneath the tolerance curve). KG values for the +D AL, +D PF, and -D groups were 504 +/- 15, 480 +/- 46, and 641 +/- 28, respectively. The increase in KG corresponded to a significant reduction in glucose-mediated insulin secretion as compared to the +D animals. This difference appeared not to be related to the increase caloric intake associated with vitamin D repletion, since +D rats which had been pair fed to the -D animals also exhibited restored plasma insulin levels in response to glucose. Plasma phosphorus concentrations were comparable in all three groups, and thus this parameter is also unlikely to be a contributory factor in the observed phenomenon. Additional experiments were conducted to evaluate the involvement of hypocalcemia in the observed impaired glucose tolerance. Normalization of plasma calcium levels (from 4.8 mg/100 ml to 9.6/100 ml) of the -D rats, by dietary calcium and phosphorus manipulation, failed to improve glucose clearance (KG for -D normocalcemic rats = 639 +/- 61) or insulin secretion. These results support the concept that vitamin D plays a physiological role in insulin secretion, acting, at least in part, independently of nutritional factors and the prevailing plasma calcium and phosphorus concentrations.

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