Evidence for extra-renal 1 alpha-hydroxylation of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 in pregnancy

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Science  22 Jun 1979:
Vol. 204, Issue 4399, pp. 1311-1313
DOI: 10.1126/science.451538


The kidneys are thought to be the only organs capable of 1 alpha-hydroxylation of vitamin D and its metabolites. We have examined the in vivo conversion of 3H-(25,26)-25-hydroxyvitamin D3(25OHD3) to 3H-(25,26)-1 alpha,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1 alpha,25(OH)2D3] in vitamin D-deficient, pregnant and nonpregnant rats. As expected, nephrectomy of nonpregnant, vitamin D-deficient rats prevented the conversion of 25OHD3 to 1 alpha,25(OH)2D3. In contrast, nephrectomy of pregnant, vitamin D-deficient rats reduced but did not abolish the formation of 1 alpha,25(OH)2D3 from its precursor. The identity of the radioactive metabolite formed from 3H-25OHD3 which circulated in nephrectomized, pregnant rats was established as 1 alpha,25(OH)2D3 by comigration with synthetic 1 alpha,25(OH)2D3 on high-pressure liquid chromatography. The simultaneous absence of 1 alpha,25(OH)2D3 in the fetal kidneys indicated that the site of 1 alpha-hydroxylation after nephrectomy of the pregnant rat was probably extra-renal in origin. Two sites of 1 alpha-hydroxylation of 25OHD3, one renal and the other extra-renal, either fetoplacental or maternal, may exist in the pregnant, vitamin D-deficient rat.