Cholecalciferol in haemodialysis patients: a randomized, double-blind, proof-of-concept and safety study

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The role of cholecalciferol supplementation in end-stage renal disease (ESRD) patients has been questioned. The objective of this randomized double-blinded study is to assess whether cholecalciferol therapy can increase serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] levels in haemodialysed patients and the safety implications of this therapy on certain biological parameters and vascular calcifications score.


Forty-three haemodialysis patients were randomized to receive placebo or cholecalciferol (25 000 IU) therapy every 2 weeks. The biological parameters, serum calcium, phosphorus, 25(OH)D and parathormone (PTH) levels, were monitored monthly for 12 consecutive months. Vascular calcifications were assessed by lateral X-ray radiography.


At baseline, the mean serum 25(OH)D levels were low and similar in both groups. Thirty patients (16 treated and 14 placebo) completed the study: 11 patients died (5 placebo and 6 treated), 1 patient dropped out and 1 patient was transplanted (both from the placebo group). After 1 year, the percentage of 25(OH)D deficient patients was significantly lower in the treated group. None of the patients developed hypercalcaemia. The PTH levels tended to increase over the study period under placebo and to decrease in the cholecalciferol group. The median changes in PTH levels from baseline to 1 year were statistically different between the two groups [+80 (−58 to 153) and −115 (−192 to 81) under placebo and cholecalciferol treatment, respectively, P = 0.02].The calcification scores increased equivalently in both groups (+2.3 per year).


Cholecalciferol is effective and safe, and does not negatively affect calcium, phosphorus, PTH levels and vascular calcifications. Additional studies are needed to compare the impacts of nutritional and active vitamin D agents on vascular calcification and mortality.

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