Parathyroid hormone metabolism and its potential as a uremic toxin.

E. Slatopolsky, K. Martin, K. Hruska

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

36 Scopus citations


Secondary hyperparathyroidism is a universal complication of chronic renal failure. It has been proposed that the markedly elevated levels of immunoreactive parathyroid hormone (i-PTH) in uremia may represent a "uremic toxin" responsible for many of the abnormalities of the uremic state. Plasma i-PTH consists of a mixture of intact hormone, a single-chain polypeptide of 84 amino acids, and smaller molecular weight hormonal fragments from both the carboxy- and amino-terminal portion of the PTH molecule. The hormonal fragments arise from metabolism of intact PTH by peripheral organs as well as from secretion of fragments from the parathyroid glands. The structural requirements for the known biological actions of PTH reside in the amino-terminal portion of the PTH molecule. Carboxy-terminal fragments, biologically inactive at least in terms of adenylate cyclase activation, hypercalcemia, or phosphaturia, depend on the kidney for their removal from plasma, and thus accumulate in the circulation in chronic renal failure. It is unknown at the present time if other biological effects of these carboxy-terminal fragments may contribute to some of the biochemical alterations observed in uremia. The most significant consequence of increased PTH levels in uremia is the development of bone disease characterized by osteitis fibrosa. In addition, it would appear that PTH plays an important role in some of the abnormal electroencephalographic patterns observed in uremia. This may be due to a potential role of PTH in increasing calcium content of brain. Parathyroid hormone also has been implicated as a pathogenetic factor in many other alterations present in uremia, i.e., peripheral neuropathy, carbohydrate intolerance, hyperlipidemia, and other alterations. Unfortunately, outstanding clinical research is lacking in this field and conclusive experimental data are practically nonexistent. Further studies are necessary if one is to accept the concept of PTH being a significant "uremic toxin."

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)F1-12
JournalThe American journal of physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1980


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