NEW YORK (Reuters Health) – Treatment with paricalcitol, a drug that activates the cell receptor for vitamin D, can reduce the inflammation and the protein loss that occurs with chronic kidney disease, the results of a small study suggest. This may help explain why activation of the vitamin D receptor has been linked to improved survival.

“Larger studies are underway to confirm whether these encouraging findings should result in a change in the way we treat patients with chronic kidney disease,” Dr. Rajiv Agarwal, from Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, noted in comments to Reuters Health.

“Vitamin D receptor activation is associated with improved survival in patients with chronic kidney disease, but the (reason for) this benefit is unclear,” Agarwal and colleagues note in Hypertension: Journal of the American Heart Association.

In the new study, the researchers randomly assigned 24 patients with chronic kidney disease to treatment with paricalcitol or inactive “placebo” for 1 month. All of the study subjects were vitamin D deficient.

Short-term exposure to paricalcitol produced marked anti-inflammatory effects and a 50 percent reduction in urine levels of a protein called albumin– two factors linked to progression of chronic kidney disease, the investigators report.

By contrast, treatment with paricalcitol did not affect blood pressure.

The authors note that two larger studies are underway that should help clarify the benefits that paricalcitol provides for patients with chronic kidney disease.

SOURCE: Hypertension, September 2008.