1. Cyclosporin A, an immunosuppressive drug used to treat psoriasis, stimulates renal synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D in rats. 1,25-Dihydroxy vitamin D can also reduce the activity of psoriasis, and in the present study we have examined the possibility that cyclosporin A mediates some of its actions in psoriasis by renal or extra-renal production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D.
2. Treatment of 12 psoriatic patients with cyclosporin A (5 mg day−1 kg−1) for 3 months significantly improved the psoriasis activity and severity index and reduced glomerular filtration rate, but serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels were not changed. However, 1–3 months after stopping cyclosporin A treatment, an increase in the psoriasis activity and severity index score was accompanied by a small, but significant, increase in serum 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D concentration. Plasma 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D levels in rats gavaged with cyclosporin A (15 mg day−1 kg−1 for 2 weeks) were significantly increased compared with controls, but a lower dose of cyclosporin A (2.4 mg day−1 kg−1) had no effect. Renal 25-hydroxyvitamin D-24-hydroxylase activity in rat kidney homogenates was not different between control and cyclosporin A-treated rats. Renal 25-hydroxyvitamin D-1α-hydroxylase activity was not detectable in these homogenates. Extra-renal production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D by activated macrophages isolated from the synovial fluid of patients with inflammatory arthritis was reduced after incubation with cyclosporin A (0.1–10 μmol/l) for 30 h or 5 days.
3. It is unlikely that alteration of circulating 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D concentration is one of the modes of action of cyclosporin A in psoriasis. Since cyclosporin A inhibits 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D production by activated synovial fluid macrophages, it is unlikely that cyclosporin A mediates some of its therapeutic actions by local synthesis of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D within the psoriatic lesion.