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indicationFor use in the management of hypocalcemia and its clinical manifestations in patients with hypoparathyroidism, as well as for the treatment of familial hypophosphatemia (vitamin D resistant rickets). This drug has also been used in the treatment of nutritional rickets or osteomalacia, vitamin D dependent rickets, rickets or osteomalacia secondary to long-term high dose anticonvulsant therapy, early renal osteodystrophy, osteoporosis (in conjunction with calcium), and hypophosphatemia associated with Fanconi syndrome (with treatment of acidosis).
pharmacologyErgoalcifediol (Vitamin D2) is a fat soluble steroid hormone precursor of vitamin D. The principal biologic function of vitamin D is the maintenance of normal levels of serum calcium and phosphorus in the bloodstream by enhancing the efficacy of the small intestine to absorb these minerals from the diet. Cholecalciferol is synthesized within our bodies naturally, but if UV exposure is inadequate or the metabolism of cholecalciferol is abnormal, then an exogenous source is required. Vitamin D2 is converted to 25-hydroxyvitamin D (25OHD) in the liver, and then to the active form, 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D (1,25(OH)2D), in the kidney. Once transformed, it binds to the vitamin D receptor, which leads to a variety of regulatory roles. Vitamin D plays an important role in maintaining calcium balance and in the regulation of parathyroid hormone (PTH). It promotes renal reabsorption of calcium, increases intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus, and increases calcium and phosphorus mobilization from bone to plasma. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D. Sources that contain the vitamin include fatty fish, the liver and fat of aquatic mammals (e.g., seals, polar bears), and eggs from chickens fed vitamin D-fortified feed. As such, many countries have instituted policies to fortify certain foods with vitamin D to compensate for the potentially low exposures of skin to sunlight. Vitamin D deficiency results in inadequate mineralization of bone or compensatory skeletal demineralization and causes decreased ionized calcium concentrations in blood and a resultant increase in the production and secretion of PTH. Increase in PTH stimulates the mobilization of skeletal calcium, inhibits renal excretion of calcium, and stimulates renal excretion of phosphorus. This results in normal fasting serum calcium concentrations and low or near-normal serum phosphorus. The enhanced mobilization of skeletal calcium induced by this secondary hyperparathyroidism leads porotic bone.
mechanism of actionActivated ergocalciferol increases serum calcium and phosphate concentrations, primarily by increasing intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphate through binding to a specific receptor in the mucosal cytoplasm of the intestine. Subsequently, calcium is absorbed through formation of a calcium-binding protein. 25-hydroxyergocalciferol is the intermediary metabolite of ergocalciferol. Although this metabolite exhibits 2–5 times more activity than unactivated ergocalciferol in curing rickets and inducing calcium absorption and mobilization (from bone) in animals, this increased activity is still insufficient to affect these functions at physiologic concentrations. Activated ergocalciferol stimulate resorption of bone and are required for normal mineralization of bone. Physiological doses of ergocalciferol also promotes calcium reabsorption by the kidneys, but the significance of this effect is not known.
toxicityLD50 = 23.7 mg/kg (Orally in mice); LD50 = 10 mg/kg (Orally in rats ); Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea, weight loss, irritability, weakness, fatigue, lassitude, and headache.
biotransformationWithin the liver, ergocalciferol is hydroxylated to ercalcidiol (25-hydroxyergocalciferol) by the enzyme 25-hydroxylase. Within the kidney, ercalcidiol serves as a substrate for 1-alpha-hydroxylase, yielding ercalcitriol (1,25-dihydroxyergocalciferol), the biologically active form of vitamin D2.
absorptionReadily absorbed from small intestine (proximal or distal), requires presence of bile salts.
half life19 to 48 hours (however, stored in fat deposits in body for prolonged periods).
drug interactionsCholecalciferol: Vitamin D analogs may enhance the adverse/toxic effect of other Vitamin D analogs. Avoid combined use of multiple vitamin D analogs (at pharmacologic doses). Prescribing information for calcitriol, doxercalciferol, paricalcitol, and alfacalcidol each specifically cautions against such combined use. Though not specified in the prescribing information for calcipotriene, cholecalciferol, and ergocalciferol, each contains warnings regarding the potential for vitamin D toxicity.
Colesevelam: Bile acid sequestrants such as colesevelam may decrease the serum concentration of Vitamin D Analogs. More specifically, bile acid sequestrants may impair absorption of Vitamin D Analogs. Avoid concomitant administration of vitamin D analogs and bile acid sequestrants (e.g., cholestyramine). Monitor plasma calcium concentrations in patients receiving combined therapy with these agents. This is particularly important in patients receiving higher doses of a bile acid sequestant (i.e., 30 g/day or more of cholestyramine or equivalent) or in patients experiencing bile acid sequestrant-induced steatorrhea. Specific recommendations regarding the separation of administration of these agents are not defined; however, it would seem prudent to separate the administration of these agents by several hours to minimize the potential risk of interaction. Similar precautions do not apply to parenterally administered vitamin D analogs.