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S Bas, A Bas, Y Almaden, E Ballesteros, M Rodriguez, and E Aguilera-Tejero

The stimulation of parathyroid hormone (PTH) secretion by hypocalcemia is reduced when hypocalcemia is preceded by hypercalcemia. The present study investigates whether the duration and degree of hypercalcemia influence the reduced PTH response to hypocalcemia after hypercalcemia. In addition, the implication of the arachidonic acid (AA) signaling pathway in this effect is evaluated. The PTH response to hypocalcemia has been studied in a control group and in four groups of rabbits subjected to hypercalcemia for different periods of time (between 30 and 120 min) and at two levels of hypercalcemia (1 x 9 and 2 x 1 mM). AA levels have been measured in parathyroid glands from rabbits subjected to hyper- and hypocalcemia. When compared with controls, rabbits that had been hypercalcemic (2 x 1 mM) for 2 h showed a markedly attenuated PTH response to hypocalcemia (50% of normal PTHmax), rabbits that had been in hypercalcemia (2 x 1 mM) for 75 min had an intermediate PTH response to hypocalcemia (70% of normal PTHmax) and rabbits that had been subjected to either 30 min hypercalcemia of 2 x 1 mM or 120 min hypercalcemia of 1 x 9 mM had a normal PTH response to hypocalcemia. AA levels increased in hypercalcemia and decreased in hypocalcemia; however, no differences were observed at either calcium level in short-time (30 min) versus long-time (120 min) hypercalcemia. In conclusion, the attenuated PTH response to hypocalcemia after hypercalcemia is dependent on both the period of time that the parathyroid glands have been exposed to hypercalcemia and the degree of hypercalcemia. In addition, this reduced PTH response does not seem to be related to changes in the AA signaling pathway.

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S Bas, E Aguilera-Tejero, A Bas, J C Estepa, I Lopez, J A Madueño, and M Rodriguez

The influence of secondary hyperparathyroidism (2 HPT) on the set point of the parathyroid hormone (PTH)-Ca2+ curve is controversial. In vitro experiments have shown an increase in the set point. However, clinical studies with hemodialysis patients have provided a variety of results (increases, decreases and no changes in the set point have been reported). The present study was designed to investigate the influence of the progression of 2 HPT on the set point of the PTH-Ca2+ curve. The PTH-Ca2+ curve and the expression of parathyroid calcium receptor (CaR mRNA) and vitamin D receptor (VDR mRNA) have been studied in normal rabbits (group I, n=9) and in nephrectomized rabbits (group II, n=18) at two stages after inducing 2 HPT: 2–3 weeks (group IIA) and 5–6 weeks (group IIB). In group I, the set point of the PTH-Ca2+ curve was 1.63±0.03 mM. A progressive hypocalcemia was detected during the evolution of 2 HPT (groups IIA and IIB). Rabbits from group IIA had a significant (P<0.001) decrease in the set point to values of 1.45±0.02 mM. However, the set point increased significantly in group IIB (P<0.001) to 1.56±0.03 mM. CaR mRNA was similarly decreased in groups IIA (39±12%) and IIB (48±7%). No changes were detected in VDR mRNA. In conclusion, a reduction in the set point of the PTH-Ca2+ curve in response to decreased extracellular Ca2+ was detected in the early phases of 2 HPT. However, with the progression of 2 HPT the set point tended to increase even though extracellular Ca2+ was markedly decreased. The increase in the set point in the course of 2 HPT seems to be a complex process that cannot be fully explained by changes in parathyroid CaR mRNA or VDR mRNA.

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Joyce Emons, Bas E Dutilh, Eva Decker, Heide Pirzer, Carsten Sticht, Norbert Gretz, Gudrun Rappold, Ewan R Cameron, James C Neil, Gary S Stein, Andre J van Wijnen, Jan Maarten Wit, Janine N Post, and Marcel Karperien

In late puberty, estrogen decelerates bone growth by stimulating growth plate maturation. In this study, we analyzed the mechanism of estrogen action using two pubertal growth plate specimens of one girl at Tanner stage B2 and Tanner stage B3. Histological analysis showed that progression of puberty coincided with characteristic morphological changes: a decrease in total growth plate height (P=0.002), height of the individual zones (P<0.001), and an increase in intercolumnar space (P<0.001). Microarray analysis of the specimens identified 394 genes (72% upregulated and 28% downregulated) that changed with the progression of puberty. Overall changes in gene expression were small (average 1.38-fold upregulated and 1.36-fold downregulated genes). The 394 genes mapped to 13 significantly changing pathways (P<0.05) associated with growth plate maturation (e.g. extracellular matrix, cell cycle, and cell death). We next scanned the upstream promoter regions of the 394 genes for the presence of evolutionarily conserved binding sites for transcription factors implicated in growth plate maturation such as estrogen receptor (ER), androgen receptor, ELK1, STAT5B, cyclic AMP response element (CREB), and RUNX2. High-quality motif sites for RUNX2 (87 genes), ELK1 (43 genes), and STAT5B (31 genes), but not ER, were evolutionarily conserved, indicating their functional relevance across primates. Moreover, we show that some of these sites are direct target genes of these transcription factors as shown by ChIP assays.