1. We have studied the early effects of intravenously and orally administered etidronate on vitamin D metabolism and indirect indices of calcium and skeletal metabolism in 17 patients with Paget's disease of bone.

2. Administration of etidronate by mouth (700–1400 mg daily for 1 month) or its intravenous infusion (300 mg daily for 5 days) decreased bone resorption as judged by urinary excretion of hydroxyproline and significantly increased renal tubular reabsorption of phosphate. No significant change in serum activity of alkaline phosphatase was noted with either regimen.

3. When etidronate was given by mouth there was a progressive decrease in fasting urinary calcium excretion and a rise in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 [1,25-(OH)2D3]. In contrast, intravenous etidronate decreased serum values of l,25-(OH)2D3 and was associated with a progressive increase in fasting calcium excretion, suggesting a decrease in the net influx of calcium from the extracellular compartment to bone. Significant inverse correlations were noted between the change induced in 1,25-(OH)2D3 values at 2 weeks and the changes in serum calcium, phosphate and fasting urinary excretion of calcium.

4. These observations suggest that the different effects of intravenous and oral etidronate on l,25-(OH)2D3 values are a consequence of different doses of etidronate used and the different effects of these regimens on the accretion of calcium into bone.

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