The effects of calcitriol on falls and fractures and physical performance tests

J. C. Gallagher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

93 Scopus citations


There is an increase in the incidence of falls with aging and about 10% of falls lead to fractures. Nearly all hip fractures are due to falls and hip fractures are the most severe of the osteoporotic fractures because they lead to a 20% mortality rate and a loss of independent living in 50% of cases. Although there are multiple factors associated with falls, our interest is the role that vitamin D metabolism plays in the pathogenesis of falls. Recent clinical trials show that both vitamin D and the metabolite calcitriol reduce the number of falls by 30-40% in elderly subjects. This should also reduce the number of fractures. In European studies, the decrease in falls could be attributed to an improvement in the muscle weakness that often accompanies vitamin D deficiency. However, in the studies using calcitriol there was no vitamin D deficiency, so the mechanism of its efficacy is less clear. It could be due to increased muscle strength, an improvement in the neurological control of balance or both. Understanding these mechanisms would allow us to search for analogs of vitamin D that act more selectively on muscle and on the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)497-501
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
StatePublished - May 2004

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology


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