Canonical Wnt (Wingless/Integrated) signaling is crucial in bone development and the Wnt ligand can promote osteoblast differentiation from mesenchymal progenitor cells. Calcitriol, an active vitamin D3, is used clinically for treatment of secondary hyperparathyroidism (SHPT) in chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. The bone effects of calcitriol in SHPT remains uncertain. We hypothesized that calcitriol improves bone mass by suppressing osteoclast activity, and simultaneously promoting Wnt ligand secretion. We designed a cross-sectional study in maintenance hemodialysis patients to explore the effects of calcitriol on different bone turnover markers and specifically emphasized the Wnt 10b levels. Then, we explored the source of Wnt 10b secretion by using osteoclasts and osteoblasts treated with calcitriol in cell culture studies. Finally, we explored the effects of calcitriol on bone microarchitectures in CKD mice, using the 5/6 nephrectomy CKD animal model with analysis using micro-computed tomography. Calcitriol promoted the growth of both trabecular and cortical bones in the CKD mice. Wnt 10b and Procollagen 1 N-terminal Propeptide (P1NP) significantly increased, but Tartrate-resistant acid phosphatase 5b (Trap 5b) significantly decreased in the calcitriol-treated maintenance hemodialysis patients. Calcitriol enhanced Wnt 10b secretion from osteoclasts in a dose-dependent manner. Treatment of SHPT with calcitriol improved the bone anabolism by inhibiting osteoclasts and promoting osteoblasts that might be achieved by increasing the Wnt 10b level.
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