Vitamin D-Mediated Hypercalcemia: Mechanisms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

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Abstract

Hypercalcemia occurs in up to 4% of the population in association with malignancy, primary hyperparathyroidism, ingestion of excessive calcium and/or vitamin D, ectopic production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], and impaired degradation of 1,25(OH)2D. The ingestion of excessive amounts of vitamin D3 (or vitamin D2) results in hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria due to the formation of supraphysiological amounts of 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] that bind to the vitamin D receptor, albeit with lower affinity than the active form of the vitamin, 1,25(OH)2D, and the formation of 5,6-trans 25(OH)D, which binds to the vitamin D receptor more tightly than 25(OH)D. In patients with granulomatous disease such as sarcoidosis or tuberculosis and tumors such as lymphomas, hypercalcemia occurs as a result of the activity of ectopic 25(OH)D-1-hydroxylase (CYP27B1) expressed in macrophages or tumor cells and the formation of excessive amounts of 1,25(OH)2D. Recent work has identified a novel cause of non-PTH-mediated hypercalcemia that occurs when the degradation of 1,25(OH)2D is impaired as a result of mutations of the 1,25(OH)2D-24-hydroxylase cytochrome P450 (CYP24A1). Patients with biallelic and, in some instances, monoallelic mutations of the CYP24A1 gene have elevated serum calcium concentrations associated with elevated serum 1,25(OH)2D, suppressed PTH concentrations, hypercalciuria, nephrocalcinosis, nephrolithiasis, and on occasion, reduced bone density. Of interest, first-time calcium renal stone formers have elevated 1,25(OH)2D and evidence of impaired 24-hydroxylase-mediated 1,25(OH)2D degradation. We will describe the biochemical processes associated with the synthesis and degradation of various vitamin D metabolites, the clinical features of the vitamin D-mediated hypercalcemia, their biochemical diagnosis, and treatment.

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