Development of weekly high-dose calcitriol based therapy for prostate cancer

Tomasz M. Beer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


Calcitriol, the principal biologically active ligand of the Vitamin D receptor (VDR), has been shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in in vitro and in vivo models of prostate cancer and a wide range of other neoplasms. In addition, calcitriol's activity appears to be additive, and in some experimental systems, synergistic with dexamethasone and several cytotoxic chemotherapy agents. While effects on progression through the cell cycle, induction of apoptosis, inhibition of angiogenesis, and reduction in tumor invasiveness have been demonstrated, the exact mechanisms of VDR-mediated antineoplastic activity remain incompletely understood. Antineoplastic activity of calcitriol requires substantially supraphysiologic concentrations of this compound. Dose escalation of calcitriol administered daily was severely limited by predictable hypercalcemia and/or hypercalcuria. This limitation has been overcome with intermittent dosing of calcitriol. At Oregon Health & Science University, weekly oral administration of calcitriol allowed the attainment of peak serum calcitriol concentrations well above 1 nM, a concentration that inhibits prostate cancer proliferation by more than 50% in vitro. Weekly high-dose calcitriol was then combined with weekly docetaxel in a Phase II clinical trial carried out in men with metastatic androgen-independent prostate cancer. Treatment resulted in PSA response (defined as a confirmed 50% reduction) in 81% of patients. This level of activity, as well as the median time to progression of 11.4 months and median survival of 19.5 months, compared favorably to results with docetaxel alone and led to the development of a recently initiated randomized trial of docetaxel with calcitriol or placebo in the same patient population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalUrologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Urology


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