• vitamin D;
  • osteoporosis;
  • rats;
  • ovariectomy;
  • calcium


Vitamin D3 analogues were shown to be beneficial for osteoporosis and other indications, but their narrow therapeutic window between efficacy and hypercalcemia has limited their clinical utility. A nonsecosteroidal, tissue-selective, orally bioavailable, vitamin D receptor (VDR) ligand was ascertained to be efficacious in bone while having modest calcemic effects in vivo. This compound (VDRM2) potently induced Retinoid X Receptor alpha (RXR)-VDR heterodimerization (EC50 = 7.1 ± 1.6 nM) and induced osteocalcin promoter activity (EC50 = 1.9 ± 1.6 nM). VDRM2 was less potent in inducing Ca2+ channel transient receptor potential cation channel, subfamily V, member 6 (TRPV6) expression (EC50 = 37 ± 12 nM). VDRM2 then was evaluated in osteopenic ovariectomized (OVX) rats and shown to dose-dependently restore vertebral bone mineral density (BMD) from OVX to sham levels at 0.08 µg/kg per day. Hypercalcemia was observed at a dose of 4.6 µg/kg per day of VDRM2, suggesting a safety margin of 57 [90% confidence interval (CI) 35–91]. 1α,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1α,25(OH)2D], ED71, and alfacalcidol restored BMD at 0.030, 0.0055, and 0.046 µg/kg per day, respectively, whereas hypercalcemia was observed at 0.22, 0.027, and 0.23 µg/kg per day, indicating a safety margin of 7.3, 4.9, and 5.0, respectively (90% CIs 4.1–13, 3.2–7.7, and 3.5–6.7, respectively). Histomorphometry showed that VDRM2 increased cortical bone area and stimulated the periosteal bone-formation rate relative to OVX at doses below the hypercalcemic dose. By contrast, ED71 increased the periosteal bone-formation rate only above the hypercalcemic dose. VDRM2 suppressed eroded surface on trabecular bone surfaces at normal serum calcium dosage levels, suggesting dual anabolic and antiresorptive activity. In summary, vitamin D analogues were more potent than VDRM2, but VDRM2 had a greater safety margin, suggesting possible therapeutic potential. © 2010 American Society for Bone and Mineral Research