Vitamin D analogue calcipotriol in the local treatment of arthritis – observations from preclinical studies

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Leena Palotie auditorium (101A), Faculty of Medicine (Aapistie 5A), University of Oulu

Topic of the dissertation

Vitamin D analogue calcipotriol in the local treatment of arthritis – observations from preclinical studies

Doctoral candidate

Licenciate of Medicine Jere Huovinen

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Medicine, Research Unit of Translational Medicine

Subject of study



Professor Kalervo Väänänen, University of Turku


Professor Petri Lehenkari, University of Oulu

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A vitamin D-like drug alleviates arthritis

In the treatment of arthritis, cortisone injections have traditionally been used. However, cortisone therapy is associated with many side effects and adverse reactions. This dissertation explores a new approach to treating experimental arthritis with an intra-articular, locally administered substance similar to vitamin D, called calcipotriol, with promising results. Calcipotriol was found to be effective and safe when administered intra-articularly in both animal models and cell culture.

In has been found in the literature that high concentrations of vitamin D and similar substances have anti-inflammatory effects in addition to their usual bone-related effects. The calcipotriol molecule has been successfully used for decades in the treatment of psoriasis as a skin cream. Calcipotriol is a synthetic compound similar to vitamin D, but it leaves the body faster.

The research design was experimental, using both human cell models and laboratory animals. Studies in sheep and rats demonstrated that calcipotriol injected into the joint is safe and advantageous: it remains active in the joint for an extended period, while the portion entering the bloodstream is quickly eliminated, reducing potential adverse effects. In rats, calcipotriol was also found to alleviate synovial inflammation. Experiments conducted on human joint cells supported these findings.

The purpose of this research was to find an alternative to the currently used cortisone preparations in the local treatment of arthritis, and in this regard, the results are very promising. Calcipotriol shows promise as a drug and is suitable for intra-articular administration in the treatment of inflammation. It could potentially be used in osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis, as well as in rheumatic joint diseases. Clinical studies and further drug development are still needed for the use of calcipotriol clinically in humans.
Last updated: 23.1.2024