05 December 2008
In malignancy-associated hypercalcemia (MAH) elevated plasma calcium levels are believed to inhibit parathyroid secretion independently of the underlying tumor. This predicts that correction of hypercalcemia should disinhibit circulating parathyroid hormone (PTH) levels, irrespective of the underlying disease. We have tested this hypothesis in subjects with multiple myeloma (MM) and squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) treated with pamidronate. In the MM group, PTH levels returned to normal as hypercalcemia was corrected. In contrast, PTH levels remained low in the SCC group despite a similar fall in plasma calcium. Calcitriol levels were significantly higher and magnesium levels slightly lower in the SCC group than those in the MM group. We conclude that the parathyroid response to the correction of hypercalcemia is blunted in subjects with SCC but not MM. In addition to hypercalcemia, other factors, perhaps related to tumor secretion of PTH-related protein, may therefore contribute to suppressing PTH secretion in MAH due to SCC.