Calcium metabolism and vitamin D in the extreme longevity

Giovanni Passeri, Rosanna Vescovini, Paolo Sansoni, Carlo Galli, Claudio Franceschi, Mario Passeri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Skeletal remodelling is a continuous process during life and is still active also in extreme senescence. In the elderly, bone resorption often prevails over bone formation, causing bone loss and fragility. Elderly subjects are exposed to the risk of fractures, and loss of self-sufficiency, if considering that the proximal femur is the most frequently involved site. Bone remodelling can maintain circulating calcium within physiological ranges, at the expense of a substantial loss of this ion from the skeleton, particularly during senescence. Calcium metabolism is regulated at cellular/molecular level by a network of cytokines, growth factors, systemic hormones that act on bone in paracrine/autocrine/systemic fashion. Among the molecules involved in bone metabolism, parathyroid hormone (PTH) and vitamin D present some peculiar aspects during senescence. The osteometabolic features in a consistent group of centenarians have been evaluated. It results that a severe hypovitaminosis D was present in 99 out of 104 centenarians (25-OH vitamin D below 5 nmol/L), and that it plays an important role as a factor inducing a vicious circle involving hypocalcemia, secondary hyperparathyroidism, together with biochemical features indicating a consistent bone loss. Serum C-terminal cross-linking telopeptide, a specific marker of bone resorption was elevated in 92% of these subjects. Moreover, it has been found that several femoral fractures had occurred after 90 years of age. These data offer a rational for the possible prevention of elevated bone turnover, bone loss and consequently the reduction of osteoporotic fractures and fractures-induced disability, in the oldest olds, through the simple supplementation with calcium and vitamin D.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-87
Number of pages9
JournalExperimental Gerontology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • Bone fractures
  • Calcium metabolism
  • Extreme longevity
  • Osteoporosis
  • Self-sufficiency
  • Vitamin D

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Medicine(all)


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