Because controlled trials in adults have shown accelerated deterioration of renal function in a small number of patients receiving calcitriol for renal osteodystrophy, we initiated a prospective, randomized, double-blind study of the use of calcitriol versus dihydrotachysterol in children with chronic renal insufficiency. We studied children aged 11/2 through 10 years, with a calculated glomerular filtration rate between 20 and 75 ml/min per 1.73 m2, and with elevated serum parathyroid hormone concentrations. Ninety-four patients completed a mean of 8.0 months of control observations and were randomly assigned to a treatment period; 82 completed the treatment period of at least 6 months while receiving a calcitriol dosage (mean±SD) of 17.1±5.9 ng/kg per day or a dihydrotachysterol dosage of 13.8±3.3 μg/kg per day. With treatment the height z scores for both calcitriol- and dihydrotachysterol-treated groups showed no differences between the two groups. In relation to cumulative dose, there was a significant decrease in glomerular filtration rate for both calcitriol and dihydrotachysterol; for calcitriol the rate of decline was significantly steeper (p=0.0026). The treatment groups did not differ significantly with respect to the incidence of hypercalcemia (serum calcium concentration >2.7 mmol/L (>11 mg/dl)). We conclude that careful follow-up of renal function is mandatory during the use of either calcitriol or dihydrotachysterol because both agents were associated with significant declines in renal function. There was no significant difference between calcitriol and dihydrotachysterol in promoting linear growth or causing hypercalcemia in children with chronic renal insufficiency. Dihydrotachysterol, the less costly agent, can be used with equal efficacy.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Supported by research grants R01 DK 31370 and R01 DK 32431 from the National Institutes of Health. Submitted for publication June 8, 1993; accepted Nov. 8, 1993. Reprint requests: James C. M. Chan, MD, Box 498 MCV Station, Richmond, VA 23298-0498.