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Calcif Tissue Int. 1998 Mar;62(3):193-8.

Relationship between disease activity and serum levels of vitamin D metabolites and PTH in rheumatoid arthritis.

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Department of Internal Medicine IV, Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, Germany.


In several studies on patients with rheumatoid arthritis, an association of bone loss with a persistently high disease activity has been found. The aim of our study was to investigate the relation between disease activity and serum levels of vitamin D metabolites, parathyroid hormone (PTH), and parameters of bone turnover in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. A total of 96 patients (83 women and 13 men) were divided into three groups according to disease activity measured by serum levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). In the whole group, serum levels of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 (1,25(OH)2D3) (P < 0.001) and PTH (P < 0.05) were negatively correlated to disease activity. The urinary excretion of collagen crosslinks--pyridinoline (Pyd) (P < 0.001) and deoxypyridinoline (Dpd) (P < 0.05)--showed a positive correlation with disease activity. The inverse correlation between serum 1,25(OH)2D3 and disease activity was separately evident in patients with (P < 0.001) and without (P < 0.01) glucocorticoid treatment, in pre- (P < 0.01) and postmenopausal (P < 0.001) women, and in men (P < 0.01). 1,25(OH)2D3 and PTH serum levels were positively correlated to serum bone alkaline phosphatase (ALP) (P < 0.01). The results indicate that high disease activity in patients with rheumatoid arthritis is associated with an alteration in vitamin D metabolism and increased bone resorption. The decrease of 1,25(OH)2D3 levels in these patients may contribute to a negative calcium balance and inhibition of bone formation. Furthermore, low levels of 1,25(OH)2D3 as an endogenous immunomodulator suppressing activated T cells and the proliferation of cells may accelerate the arthritic process in rheumatoid arthritis.

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