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Research Article

Healing of bone disease in X-linked hypophosphatemic rickets/osteomalacia. Induction and maintenance with phosphorus and calcitriol.

R M Harrell, K W Lyles, J M Harrelson, N E Friedman and M K Drezner

Published June 1985

Although conventional therapy (pharmacologic doses of vitamin D and phosphorus supplementation) is usually successful in healing the rachitic bone lesion in patients with X-linked hypophosphatemic rickets, it does not heal the coexistent osteomalacia. Because serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels are inappropriately low in these patients and high calcitriol concentrations may be required to heal the osteomalacia, we chose to treat five affected subjects with high doses of calcitriol (68.2 +/- 10.0 ng/kg total body weight/d) and supplemental phosphorus (1-2 g/d) performing metabolic studies and bone biopsies before and after 5-8 mo of this therapy in each individual. Of these five patients, three (aged 13, 13, and 19 yr) were receiving conventional treatment at the inception of the study and therefore showed base-line serum phosphorus concentrations within the normal range. The remaining two untreated patients (aged 2 and 37 yr) displayed characteristic hypophosphatemia before calcitriol therapy. All five patients demonstrated serum calcitriol levels in the low normal range (22.5 +/- 3.2 pg/ml), impaired renal phosphorus conservation (tubular maximum for the reabsorption of phosphate per deciliter of glomerular filtrate, 2.13 +/- 0.20 mg/dl), and osteomalacia on bone biopsy (relative osteoid volume, 14.4 +/- 1.7%; mean osteoid seam width, 27.7 +/- 3.7 micron; mineral apposition rate, 0.46 +/- 0.12 micron/d). On high doses of calcitriol, serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels rose into the supraphysiologic range (74.1 +/- 3.8 pg/ml) with an associated increment in the serum phosphorus concentration (2.82 +/- 0.19 to 3.78 +/- 0.32 mg/dl) and improvement of the renal tubular maximum for phosphate reabsorption (3.17 +/- 0.22 mg/dl). The serum calcium rose in each patient while the immunoactive parathyroid hormone concentration measured by three different assays remained within the normal range. Most importantly, repeat bone biopsies showed that high doses of calcitriol and phosphorus supplements had reversed the mineralization defect in all patients (mineral apposition rate, 0.88 +/- 0.04 micron/d) and consequently reduced parameters of bone osteoid content to normal (relative osteoid volume, 4.1 +/- 0.7%; mean osteoid seam width, 11.0 +/- 1.0 micron). Complications (hypercalcemia and hypercalciuria) ensued in four of these five patients within 1-17 mo of documented bone healing, necessitating reduction of calcitriol doses to a mean of 1.6 +/- 0.2 micrograms/d (28 +/- 4 ng/kg ideal body weight per day). At follow-up bone biopsy, these four subjects continued to manifest normal bone mineralization dynamics (mineral apposition rate, 0.88 +/-0.10 micrometer/d) on reduced doses of 1.25-dihydroxyvitamin D with phosphorus supplements (2 g/d) for a mean of 21.3 +/- 1.3 mo after bone healing was first documented. Static histomorphometric parameters also remained normal (relative osteoid volume, 1.5 +/- 0.4%; mean osteoid seam width, 13.5 +/- 0.8 micrometer). These data indicate that administration of supraphysiologic amounts of calcitriol, in conjunction with oral phosphorus, results in complete healing of vitamin D resistant osteomalacia in patients with X-linked hypophosphatemic rickets. Although complications predictably require calcitriol dose reductions once healing is achieved, continued bone healing can be maintained for up to 1 yr with lower doses of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D and continued phosphorus supplementation.

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