Ergocalciferol and Cholecalciferol Can Both Correct 25-Hydroxyvitamin D Deficiency

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This article is part of our ongoing coverage of Renal Week 2009. Click here for a complete list of our Renal Week Live articles.


Key Points

  • Ergocalciferol 50,000 units per week and cholecalciferol 2,000 units per day can both correct 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) deficiency within two months.
  • Ergocalciferol recipients may achieve higher 25-OHD levels.
  • In the ergocalciferol group mean PTH levels declined from 381 pg/mL before treatment to 339 pg/mL four months after the start of treatment vs 416 to 454 pg/mL in the cholecalciferol group.

Ergocalciferol 50,000 units per week and cholecalciferol 2,000 units per day can both correct 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25-OHD) deficiency within two months, but ergocalciferol recipients may achieve higher 25-OHD levels, according to researchers.

To assess a possible role of 25-OHD deficiency in hyperparathyroidism, investigators measured serial levels of parathyroid hormone (PTH) and 25-OHD for four consecutive months in 39 chronic hemodialysis (HD) patients who were given either ergocalciferol 50,000 units once weekly (19 patients) or cholecalciferol 2,000 units once daily (20 patients) for the four-month period.

In both groups, the mean 25-OHD level was 17 ng/mL before the start of treatment. At two months, the level was 50 ng/mL in the ergocalciferol group and 42 ng/mL in the cholecalciferol group. At four months, the levels were 40 and 35 ng/mL, respectively.

Mean PTH levels decreased 50% or more (responders) in three (18%) of 17 ergocalciferol-treated patients (two patients were hypoparathyroid) compared with seven (35%) of the 20 cholecalciferol recipients.

In the ergocalciferol group—excluding the two hypoparathyroid patients—mean PTH levels declined from 381 pg/mL before treatment to 339 pg/mL four months after the start of treatment. In the cholecalciferol group, mean PTH levels increased from 416 to 454 pg/mL.

“I've heard many people say that cholecalciferol was more effective [than ergocalciferol], but it turned out not to be true by our findings,” said investigator Paul G. Jenkins, MD, Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine in Milwaukee.

He noted, however, that his study is limited by its small study population.

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