Background: Vitamin D3 is metabolized to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] in liver, and only after it goes to kidney is it converted to its biologically active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D]. Also, the majority of both total 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D are tightly bound to vitamin D bind protein (DBP) and only a small portion remains in free form. In certain patient populations, like primary hyperparathyroidism (PHPT), concentrations of free vitamin D metabolites may be affected by altered levels of binding protein.
Methods: Thirty female patients with PHPT and 30 healthy age and body mass index (BMI) matched controls were enrolled (57.1 ± 9.8 years and BMI of 32.2 ± 7.2 kg/m2). Serum levels of calcium, intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH), DBP, total 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D levels were examined. Serum free 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D levels were calculated using equations adapted from Bikle et al.
Results: There were no significant differences in age and BMI between groups. Compared to controls, patients with PHPT had lower total 25(OH)D (25.2 ± 7.5 vs. 19.3 ± 6.4 ng/mL; p <0.001) and DBP levels (40.7± 3.1 vs. 36.5 ± 5.7 mg/dL; p <0.001). There were no significant differences in total 1,25(OH)2D levels or calculated free 25(OH)D levels between PHPT patients and controls; but the calculated free 1,25(OH)2D levels were 27% higher in the PHPT patients compared to controls (p<0.001). The calculated free (but not total) 1,25(OH)2D level was inversely correlated with DBP (r=-0.35, p<0.01) and positively correlated with iPTH levels (r=0.33, p<0.01).
Conclusion: Postmenopausal patients with PHPT had lower serum total 25(OH)D, but similar free 25(OH)D levels. In contrast, total 1,25(OH)2D levels did not differ between patients and controls; however, patients had higher free 1,25(OH)2D. Because total 25(OH)D and 1,25(OH)2D levels do not reflect free levels, standard clinical measures of circulating vitamin D may not be an accurate estimate of true vitamin D status in patients with PHPT.