Calcitriol supplementation in patients with kidney failure is associated with an important decrease

A research team has shown that the active form of vitamin D, calcitriol, reduces death by COVID-19 in patients with advanced kidney failure. The team, built by experts of the Health Corporation Taulí Park – UAB, the University of Barcelona, the Hospital del Mar Medical Research Institute Foundation (IMIM) and Assessment and Quality Agency of Catalonia (AQUAS), has published the results of the study in the open access journal Biomedicines (MDPI).

This observational study has analysed 8,075 adult patients treated with calcitriol in Catalonia during the last months before the pandemic and have been compared, using technical statistics, to a population of similar features regarding age, sex, comorbidity and other received associated treatments.

The study shows that patients who took calcitriol had a 34% lower probability of dying due to COVID-19, compared to the patients without this treatment. “Mortality decreased by 43% if patients had an advanced kidney disease, while those patients with a good kidney functioning, the mortality reduction was only seen in those that took high doses of this drug”, notes Joaquim Oristrell, member of the University Hospital Taulí Park, principal researcher of the study.

“The importance of this finding lies in the fact that to date, the studies conducted with other derivates from vitamin D, such as cholecalciferol or calcifediol, have been carried out to a low number of patients, and in general, have not detected any appreciable reduction in death by COVID-19”, notes Maria Grau, from the Department of Medicine of the UB, and coleader of the study.

CAuthors conclude that “this study points out to the fact that calcitriol, the hormonal active form of vitamin D, would have a higher potential than other vitamin D derivates to stop severe forms of COVID-19”. However, he authors warn that calcitriol can induce hypercalcemia and should not be supplemented without any medical supervision. Also, the benefits were mainly observed on the patients with advanced kidney failure, while more studies are necessary to verify if it can be useful for people without kidney disease.

Article reference:

Oristrell, J.; Oliva, J. C.; Subirana, I.; Casado, E.; Domínguez, D.; Toloba, A.; Aguilera, P.; Esplugues, J.; Fafian, P.; Grau, M. “Association of calcitriol supplementation with reduced COVID-19 mortality in patients with chronic kidney disease: a population-based study”. Biomedicines, 2021, 9(5), 509. DOI: 10.3390/biomedicines9050509

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